The whistleblower provisions of the federal False Claims Acts apply to more than 20 government programs, including Medicare and Medicaid and defense programs. Other laws, including the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, protect and reward whistleblowers who seek to reveal securities and financial fraud. The IRS has also established a whistleblower reward program for individuals with knowledge of substantial tax fraud.
False Claims Act: Taxpayers Against Fraud (TAF) regards the False Claims Act as the most powerful weapon private citizens have at their disposal to fight government fraud. The False Claims Act allows private citizens to file whistleblower lawsuits against corporations in a variety of industries that are doing business with the U.S. government. Whistleblowers are entitled to receive up to 30% of any funds recovered by the government, and possess substantial protections against retaliation by their employers. False Claims Act whistleblowers can also retain their anonymity while the Department of Justice investigates their claim.
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Whistleblower: The SEC Whistleblower Program was established by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The SEC whistleblower program allows people who report securities fraud to receive a financial reward if the SEC collects any monetary sanctions over $1 million. However, unlike other whistleblower statutes, SEC whistleblowers do not have to file their own lawsuit; rather, violations are reported directly to the SEC. SEC whistleblowers may remain anonymous, but in order to so, they must be represented by an SEC whistleblower lawyer. SEC whistleblowers are also protected against retaliation by their employer, and may sue for back pay and other damages if they are targeted.
Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Whistleblower: Also established by the Dodd-Frank Act, the CFTC Whistleblower Program rewards and protects individuals who report illegal manipulation of commodities and futures markets. CFTC whistleblowers receive rewards if the Commission collects monetary sanctions in excess of $1 million. CFTF whistleblowers who suffer from employment retaliation may sue for reinstatement, back pay and any other damages that occurred.
Sarbanes-Oxley Act Whistleblowers: Enacted in 2002, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act protects employees of publicly traded companies who report violations of SEC regulations or any provision of federal law relating to fraud against shareholders. The law also protects employees who participate or testify in SEC regulatory proceedings or other federal proceedings related to shareholder fraud. Adverse changes to the whistleblower’s terms and conditions of employment are prohibited.
Employment and Labor Whistleblowers: The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) and the Department of Labor have established whistleblower protections under a number of laws that prohibit retaliation against workers who complain to their employers, unions, or government agencies about unsafe or unhealthful conditions in the workplace, environmental problems, certain public safety hazards, and certain violations of federal provisions concerning securities fraud, as well as for engaging in other related protected activities. Individuals who wish to report wage and hour violations, including employee misclassification, failure to pay overtime pay, pension law violations or anything to do with their capacity as an employee, may also be considered whistleblowers. Generally, whistleblowers may not be transferred, denied a raise, have their hours reduced, or be fired or punished in any other way because they have exercised any right afforded to them under one of the laws that protect whistleblowers.
IRS Whistleblower Program: The IRS Whistleblower Office was established by the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006. The program allows tax fraud whistleblowers to be rewarded as much as 30% of the additional tax, penalty and other amounts the IRS collects based on the whistleblower’s information.
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Whistleblower (FCPA): Under the Dodd-Frank Act, the whistleblower provisions of the FDPA were expanded. The FCPA was established to aid the U.S. government to identify, investigate, and, where appropriate, prosecute individuals and corporations who engage in bribery, overcharges, and accounting cover-ups in foreign business transactions. Any individual with information about bribes paid to officials to get business can report these miscarriages and qualify for a financial reward, amounting to 10 to 30% of the penalty imposed by the SEC.
State Whistleblower Laws
A total of 27 states plus Washington DC have false claims acts in place on the state level. The local laws, like the federal one, allow governments to join lawsuits filed by whistleblowers who spot fraud involving taxpayer dollars. However, state whistleblower laws vary greatly from state to state regarding who can act as a whistleblower, protections afforded whistleblowers, and rewards granted to whistleblowers. If you want to blow the whistle on fraud at the state level, you’ll need the advice of an experienced whistleblower lawyer who understands your state’s False Claims Act or whistleblower law to make sure you are protected.
Legal Help for Whistleblowers
The whistleblower protection lawyers at Gilman Law LLP have assisted honest citizens in multiple industries uncover significant fraud at both the state and federal level. If you are thinking of becoming a whistleblower, our experienced whistleblower attorneys will make sure you receive all of the protections state and federal law affords you, and will do everything legally possible to ensure you recover the maximum whistleblower reward possible. For a free and confidential evaluation of your possible whistleblower case, please fill out our online form or call Toll Free at 1-888-252-0048.
Additional Information on How to Become a Whistleblower
Any individual who witnesses corporate wrongdoing against the government can file a complaint or “blow the whistle” to launch a lawsuit and hold the party accountable for its actions. Typically, the whistleblower receives a percentage of the lawsuit settlement funds and federal laws protect whistleblowers from unnecessary retribution.
Each year, hundreds of whistleblower cases are filed and many are settled for millions of dollars. Some industries where whistleblowers have filed successful claims include:
- Defense Industry Whistleblowers: Private defense contractors regularly engage in systemic, fraudulent behavior, while receiving hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer money. This fraud hurts taxpayers and unnecessarily places the lives of our armed forces at risk.
Securities and Financial Industry Whistleblowers: Under the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Whistleblower Program, successful whistleblowers are eligible to receive a reward of 10-30% of the amount the SEC recovers in sanctions. During the past decade alone, the SEC has recovered in excess of $5 billion in sanctions through its enforcement actions. The Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX) protects employees of publicly traded companies and affiliated entities who engage in whistleblowing activities.
- Healthcare Industry Whistleblowers: Whistleblower complaints are the single most important tool we have for detecting and preventing healthcare fraud. Under the federal False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. 3729 (FCA), private citizens, also known as relators, can file Qui Tam lawsuits for healthcare fraud committed against the government. The most common types of healthcare whistleblower lawsuits include Medicare and Medicaid fraud cases.
- Food Industry Whistleblowers: In 2010, Congress included new whistleblower protections in a number of newly enacted statutes, such as the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (the “Act”). The Act includes an expansive new protection for whistleblowers in the food industry.
- Energy Industry Whistleblowers: Oil, gas, coal and other energy companies have been the subject of many securities fraud cases and the subject of whistleblower investigations for violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). Violations of environmental laws have also been uncovered by whistleblowers.
- Pharmaceutical Industry Whistleblowers: Corporate fraud, corporate bribery, and securities fraud within the pharmaceutical industry have spawned many whistleblower lawsuits. Pharmaceutical whistleblower lawsuits may address everything from the illegal marketing of drugs to violations of the FCPA.