Growing up, each of us was taught that honesty was the best policy. Unfortunately, as adults, this advice tends to get a bit more complicated. Whistleblowers, for example, often learn the hard way that being honest can also have severe repercussions for them, despite their best intentions. Anyone who has paid attention to the news knows that whistleblowers who exposed government actions have found themselves in very scary situations. If you are or plan on becoming a whistleblower, it is absolutely vital that you have an attorney on your side and seek their help immediately.
What Is a Whistleblower?
Of course, being a whistleblower means more than simply being honest. It generally refers to a person who goes outside of their company in order to lodge complaints about them. However, in most cases, the whistleblower actually reported these concerns to their employer first.
As an example, you may have found out that your company was illegally dumping chemicals that could end up in drinking water. You then either went to your employer or to someone outside of the company in order to bring this news to light.
Going outside of your company may have seemed like the best move because you feared retaliation. It could be, too, that your employer simply did nothing after you reported your findings. Both scenarios should make it clear why you need legal representation and why, ideally, you should secure it before proceeding.
Qui tam lawsuits are brought under the False Claims Act. This legislation actually rewards whistleblowers if their claim recovers funds for the government. Obviously, a successful qui tam lawsuit could do this in a number of ways. They could stop:
- Medicare and Medicaid Fraud
- Defense Contractor Fraud
- Mail Fraud
- Violation of Various Acts
- Tax Fraud
These are just some of many examples. To put it simply, if you know your employer is breaking the law or otherwise defrauding the U.S. taxpayer, you probably have a qui tam case on your hands.
Hiring an Attorney Early
The importance of going to an attorney before whistle blowing cannot be stressed enough. For one thing, these charges usually take time to cultivate. You don’t want to simply go to the news with your accusations, for example. Doing so may give guilty parties enough time to react in a way that helps their case and hurts you.
Working with a qui tam attorney should be seen as more of a partnership. It’s a very unique type of civil lawsuit in that regard. They obviously bring their legal expertise and experience to the table, while you have your knowledge on the specific infractions. More than likely, you will probably also be relied on to explain industry terminology and other areas to your lawyer. This can take time, even if they bring in their own experts on the matter.
Usually, they involve contingent fees as well. Few whistleblowers find themselves in a position to pay their lawyers at the beginning of such a case.
As it stands, too, you may know that your employer is doing something wrong. However, there’s a big difference between you knowing this and explaining this to the courts. A qualified attorney will know what information is necessary to put together a successful case.
Although becoming a whistleblower can certainly be a trying experience, a successful case will bring its own rewards, including the knowledge that you did what was right. The case itself—from the moment you witness an infraction until the end—can also be made so much easier if you simply speak to an experienced whistleblower attorney ASAP.