Last year there were just 704 whistleblower claims filed under the False Claims Act, America’s primary whistleblower reward program. That isn’t 704 filed in Iowa or in a single city, that is nationwide. Looking at the long term trends, that number doesn’t change much.
Why don’t more whistleblowers come forward? Are whistleblowers a dying breed?
Thankfully the answer is no, but there are some disturbing trends.
Although only 704 whistleblower claims were filed last year, there are tens of thousands of whistleblowers who step up to the plate each year. Calling a government hotline or telling your boss that the company is doing something illegal means blowing the whistle.
Unfortunately doing things this way won’t get you an award and probably doesn’t protect you from retaliation.
There are many whistleblowers in society. Nobody likes cheaters or those who get a free ride at the expense of others.
The big problem isn’t a lack of whistleblowers, it is that most people don’t know how to do it correctly.
Is there anything wrong going to your boss or HR to report wrongdoing? No but it doesn’t protect you from illegal retaliation. And depending on the type of fraud – like poor books and records or foreign bribery – you might have to report to the government first in order to be protected.
If you are going to report internally first – most people do – and you are worried about retaliation, speak to an experienced whistleblower lawyer first. They can tell you how to report so that you preserve your employment claims in case you are fired or walked out the door.
If you are looking for a reward, calling a hotline doesn’t work. A few hotlines can pay $1000 bucks or so but that is about it.
Uncle Sam and the states pay out hundreds of millions of dollars each year in whistleblower reward monies but only to the select few who filed formal claims.
Filing a claim usually means filing a sealed lawsuit in court but there are a few programs that do not require actual litigation. That someone has to file something in court scares away many whistleblowers. It shouldn’t.
Most good whistleblower lawyers are happy to help you get an award. And most work on a contingent fee basis meaning they only get paid if they are successful.
There are lawyers that most of the work for you and take the financial risk of pursuing these cases. Don’t let the notion of filing something in court scare you away. If you want more information on how the typical case works, download our 11 step guide to becoming a whistleblower. (No names or email address required to access the guide.)
Blowing the Whistle is Hard
Even though we do all the legal work, standing up for what is right can be hard. There is no way to sugarcoat it.
Despite very robust anti-retaliation laws, some bad employers will retaliate anyway. If you do suffer retaliation, the law provides for double damages and legal fees but it can still be a difficult process. Because most cases are filed under seal meaning they are secret, not being able to defend yourself publicly or talk to friends and co-workers can also be difficult.
Fortunately, many programs allow you to file anonymously or have great track record of keeping your identity anonymous. And the False Claims Act requires cases to be filed under seal meaning it is usually months or years before your name is ever made known. That gives you plenty of time to secure new employment if you don’t want to stay and fight.
Whistleblowers are Heroes
Whistleblowers are the new American heroes. They stand up against fraud, corruption and corporate greed. They stand up for taxpayers. Depending on the type of fraud, they stand up for homeowners, patients and the ellderly. They are the select few brave enough to make waves when most people are satisfied just being complacent and keeping their mouths shut.
Sadly, today many people are satisfied to sit back and just let life happen, even if what is happening isn’t fair or just.
Corporations are more powerful than ever. And it often seems like the political powers often protect the wrongdoers. Whistleblowers, however, realize they have a voice and can make a difference.
With so much corruption and greed in our world today comes new opportunities to make a difference. Whistleblowers reject passivity and inaction. They embrace the ethos of action. And by doing so, they truly make a difference.
There is a huge percentage of our population today stuck in limbo. They still understand the difference between right and wrong but don’t know how to bring about change or simply don’t have the stomach to rock the boat. They would rather coast through each day, never making a difference.
Whistleblowers are the exception. And in today’s world, they are the heroes. The inspiration that motivates others to step forward.
Read the stories in Saints, Sinners and Heroes. These are ordinary people who woke up one morning and did something exceptional. They made a difference. And even those who failed to get an award or win their case still made a difference.
Whistleblowers are why we get up every morning and do what we do. They bring hope. And they prove that good can triumph over evil. That David can slay Goliath.
Are whistleblowers a dying breed? No, not at all. (But we desperately need more heroes.)
Our mission is to better educate whistleblowers so that they can be more effective and be properly compensated and protected. And it is also to tell their stories so that others will step forward.
If you want to learn more or find out if you have a case, contact us. All inquiries are protected by the attorney – client privilege and kept confidential. The call is free and without any obligation whatsoever. For more information, contact us online, by email at or by phone at 202-800-9791. Cases handled nationwide.