It is extremely important for a whistleblower in this position to educate themselves about their rights and responsibilities and to consult with an experienced attorney about what to do next when a lawsuit might be initiated.
The federal government uses a reward system as well as a variety of whistleblower protections to encourage people who have inside details about fraud to come forward and to report these concerns. These concerns might initially be shared with an internal reporting channel in the company and later revealed as the source of litigation.
Who Could Receive a Potential Reward?
A relator or a qui tam plaintiff is an individual who brings a lawsuit against the party accused of fraud on behalf of the federal government. The federal government maintains right to conduct their own investigation and decide whether or not to intervene in the case. Regardless of whether or not the government does decide to intervene, the plaintiff could still be entitled to a portion of the reward recovered in such a lawsuit.
This is what makes it important for a relator or potential qui tam plaintiff to sit down with an experienced whistleblower lawyer and discuss the pros and cons of bringing a case as well as understanding the typical timelines involved with whistleblower allegations. It is important for a party to any type of fraud to recognize that they have a variety of protections available to them at the federal level and that bringing a claim under the False Claims Act could entitle them to receive up to 30% of the possible recovery in a lawsuit.
Federal laws require the government to reward those whistleblowers who have taken it upon themselves to report instances of fraud. Without these external people sharing their concerns over fraud, the federal government might not be aware of various types of illegal actions and unethical behavior involving federal money.
What Is A Whistleblower Reward?
A whistleblower reward refers to a monetary incentive that has been offered by the government to individuals who help to expose certain types of wrongdoing. The federal government must share a portion of the recovery due to an investigation that was brought forward by a tip presented by a whistleblower.
There are four different whistleblower reward programs in the United States. These include:
- Qui Tam and False Claims Act lawsuits; which involve whistleblower rewards for reporting fraud against the government.
- CFTC whistleblower reward program; which rewards whistleblowers who report violations of the Commodity Exchange Act.
- The SEC whistleblower reward program; which rewards those who report violations of federal securities laws.
- IRS whistleblower reward program; which rewards those who have insider information about tax fraud or underpayments.
Many of the people who come forward to share information about misdeeds are motivated by their own ethics. They want the illegal actions to stop and for others to know that it happened. But a whistleblower could
Each whistleblower program has its own unique rules and procedures for recovering a reward. This makes it important to consult a knowledgeable whistleblower attorney to determine whether or not the claim qualifies for a potential reward. Many of the cases involving current rewards have to do with those brought under the false claims act, although an employee who has recently learned of illegal or unethical behavior that constitutes fraud against the government should certainly consult with a lawyer to determine the most appropriate course of action.
Basics Behind the False Claims Act
The False Claims Act contains a qui tam provision that enables relators or whistleblowers to bring a suit on behalf of any wrongdoer who is currently defrauding the US government. Whistleblowers are afforded substantial protections against retaliation under that act and their willingness to get involved in lawsuits brings about substantial money in settlements and judgements. In the event that the government decides to join the qui tam case, the relator can recover up to 25% of what the government obtains. In the event that the government declines to get involved in the qui tam lawsuit and a whistleblower proceeds anyway, the relator could receive a reward up to 30% of the government’s recovery.
The actual whistleblower award will depend on numerous different issues, including whether the fraud involved a serious safety issue, the amount of assistance and the quality of the whistleblower’s involvement in the case, and how detailed and extensive the information that was when given by the whistleblower.
Anyone who finds themselves in the position of being aware of potential fraud should take this situation seriously and recognize that there may be state laws in addition to federal protections for getting involved in a whistleblower case. Scheduling a consultation with a whistleblower lawyer could be your first step towards protecting your future.
When Should I Come Forward with a Whistleblower Claim?
Remember that one of the important aspects of any case is whether or not the information you know has been publicly disclosed before. You might want to wait to take action until you’ve had time to speak with your attorney, but you also don’t wait to wait too long until someone else might share these details or until the government learns of the issue on their own.
As a whistleblower, you might feel as though you are taking a big risk by coming forward with details. However, you are protected by numerous laws and your state might also have additional protections in place. You can learn more about the process by taking the time to speak with a dedicated lawyer who knows what is involved in bringing a whistleblower claim and how you can best prepare yourself for the next phases.
As soon as you believe you have evidence about a legal violation or case of fraud, consider sitting down with a lawyer to discuss the options available to you. Your attorney can help you with charting a course of action as you move into considering litigation.