Understanding the Term “Whistleblower”
Many people have heard of the term whistleblower but could be confused about the actual legal context of this important term. A whistleblower is an individual who is aware of and informs the government of wrongdoing or fraud.
Whistleblowing occurs in public and private sector workplaces, including traditional companies, universities, schools, hospitals, doctors’ offices and more. Whistleblower laws exist at the state and federal level. One of the purposes of these laws is to prevent employers from retaliating against employees who learn about these illegal behaviors and take action.
Those employees who have done their best to report fraud and other illegal activity could be protected by whistleblower laws when their employer attempts to demote, fire or otherwise retaliate against them. It is critical for employees to understand when their rights may have been violated in an employee or workplace setting.
Does Every Case of Fraud Qualify for an Ohio Whistleblower Lawsuit?
It’s important to note that an employee might see something they consider evidence of wrongdoing, but this does not necessary mean that an Ohio whistleblower lawsuit could be filed. If the information brought up by the employee has already been shared in a previous lawsuit or in public hearings, the employee in question might not bring forth a lawsuit.
Bringing an Ohio whistleblower lawsuit means bringing litigation on behalf of the government entity that was defrauded. As part of this, the government will evaluate the individual claim and might opt to participate in the case. If the government participates and the case recovery money, the whistleblower is entitled to an award ranging between 15-25% of the recovery.
Understanding the Basics Behind Ohio’s Whistleblower Laws
The government, both at the state and federal level, wants to work with whistleblowers. In plenty of cases, the government would not have known about the fraudulent scheme had the whistleblower not stepped forward to share information about the claim. The government also recognizes that it can be difficult for a whistleblower to take such an action, which is why the reward programs and protections are in place to encourage employees to step up and blow the whistle on fraud.
Whistleblowing goes far beyond simply stating facts about or criticizing a workplace or an employer. While it is certainly a common practice for certain workers to express these kinds of feelings in the act of whistleblowing, whistleblowers usually reveal or uncover organized corruption or legal wrongdoings.
Whistleblowing is defined by Ohio and federal laws and the Ohio State Bar Association as reporting fraud the affects the government in addition to certain kinds of suspected violations having to do with financial reporting, securities acts, public funds abuse, and Medicare or Medicaid fraud. While employees at a company are the ones most likely to blow the whistle in an Ohio whistleblowing case, they are not the only ones who can come forward with relevant information. Vendors, contractors, consumers and any other citizens who suspect fraud can be a whistleblower.