by Brian Mahany
When I was a government agent, I had to swear an oath to uphold the law and defend the Constitution. As everyone knows, people in all walks of life break the law. Whistleblowers who have the courage to come forward are often the target of retaliation. Theoretically, the last place one would expect retaliation is within the public sector. Government employees, after all, are charged with enforcing the law.
Just don’t try to convince 6 workers at the Army Substance Abuse Program at Fort Richardson, Alaska of that fact.
According to a press release today from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, the 6 workers complained earlier this year that their boss was falsifying and destroying patient records. After a brief investigation and suspension, the boss was reinstated. That’s when the retaliation apparently began.
The workers claimed that shortly thereafter they were fired, threatened, harassed or subjected to disciplinary action. The Office of Special Counsel finally intervened and convinced the government to issue a stay and order that all harassment stop.
Unfortunately, several of the 6 already left their jobs or were fired. Nothing can make up for the misery they suffered for 7 months. At least someone in government finally listened and took action. When retaliation occurs in the private sector, however, there is no Special Counsel agency. Employees often must seek private counsel to protect their rights.
Many whistleblower lawyers are interested in lucrative false claims act or SEC whistleblower cases but often will not protect their clients if they are subjected to harassment. State and federal law protects whistleblowers but those protections require a complaint with the E.E.O.C. or similar state body. Those actions can take months or even years to sort out. In the end, however, the whistleblower is entitled to monetary damages if retaliation is proven.
Obviously, not every whistleblower is subjected to harassment. For every horror story we know of stories in which no harassment took place or in which the employer just settled.
Some whistleblower cases involve the potential of large cash awards. There are many lawyers willing to take these cases on a contingent fee basis meaning they only get paid if you receive an award. Before hiring a lawyer, however, make sure he or she is willing to defend you if you suffer retaliation.
The fraud recovery lawyers at Mahany & Ertl have helped many whistleblowers throughout the United States. Currently we represent the whistleblower in the nation’s largest false claims action, HUD’s $2.4 billion complaint against Allied Home Mortgage. If you know of false billing or fraud affecting taxpayers or companies that are violating federal securities laws, you may be able to a large cash award for your information. For more information, contact attorney Anthony Dietz at or the author, Brian Mahany at (414) 704-6731 (direct). All inquiries are kept in strict confidence and protected by the attorney – client privilege.
Mahany & Ertl – America’s Fraud Lawyers and proud supporters of whistle watch.org. Offices in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Detroit, Michigan; Portland, Maine & Minneapolis, Minnesota. Services available in many jurisdictions.