You work for a hospital or doctor's office or maybe a dentist or a care home, and you know that the office receives government funds for some patient care. You note that your office often overcharges for services or waives the fees and deductibles for patients, but still bills the government. This type of action is fraud and costs the taxpayers millions each year in misspent funding. Should you report it? Should you just keep your head down? What could happen to you if you do something? Is whistleblowing illegal? Can I do it?
It's understandable to have concerns about whistleblowing and it's often easier to keep your head down and do nothing; however, how would you feel morally if you knowingly watched the fraudulent action take place? Furthermore, what if another co-worker reports the fraud and it seems you were complicit in the action because you knew?
Is whistleblowing illegal?
In short, whistleblowing is not illegal in general terms and, yes, you can do it, but if you work for a government contractor or are in military service, legality is a concern. If you suspect fraud, you need to go through the exact proper channels to report it, especially if you are working with confidential, proprietary information.
For all other public and some private employees, there are protections in place. However, since whistleblowing cases are so tricky and specific, then you will always need to hire a trusted attorney to help with your case.
The United States Department of Labor has a website (here) dedicated to whistleblowers: letting you know how to file a complaint, what your rights are, and how you are protected by law.
What are the laws?
The laws are very specific on how fraudulent issues should be reported by whistleblowers. Failure to comply with any aspect of the law can result in a loss of protection, which is why it's vital that if you suspect fraudulent activity, you consult a lawyer immediately.
Many laws dictate that you have only 30-90 days to report the incident from the time of discovery. Some states require the wrongdoing to be reported in writing; other states require the whistleblower to state the specific laws that were broken in order to provide the employer with specificity so it can correct the problem. No matter the requirement, your legal representative can help you with the best course of action.
How can I do it?
We understand that people risk their careers and reputations to report fraud and protect government funds, so we provide the best representation and protection for our clients. The best way to start a case is to contact a trusted attorney to discuss if you have enough evidence to bring a case forward. At Coxwell & Associates, PLLC we specialize in qui tam cases and have been winning cases for over 36 years. We will help you understand which evidence you need to gather, how to do it secretly, and protect you from harm.
Even though whistleblowing comes with great risk, it can also come with great reward. The rewards are usually around 15-25% of the recovered money if the government joins the case, but, if it doesn’t, the proceeds the relator is awarded can be 25-30% of the recovery amount. In some cases, relators (whistleblowers in qui tam cases) are awarded thousands even millions of dollars in compensation.
Do you suspect fraud in your place of work?
In 2016, the Justice Department recovered over $4.7 billion from the False Claims Act (FCA). If you suspect fraud in your place of work download our free guide which goes into detail about everything you need to know about whistlblowing, including how to suspect fraud, what the next steps are to take and how to protect yourself. Click on the button below to download the guide.
Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.