Under most whistleblower programs, individuals who expose fraud against the government can generally be rewarded as much as 30% of any recoveries made by the government. Depending on the extent of the fraud and the whistleblower’s role in exposing it, that could result in a sizeable financial reward. Often the amount is negotiated between government lawyers and the whistleblowers’ attorneys. However, the False Claims Act and other whistleblower laws are very complex, and if you don’t follow procedure to the letter, you may end up forfeiting your right to collect an award.
The False Claims Act requires a reporter to have independent knowledge of a fraud. The information cannot come from other sources or public documents, but the whistleblower must be the “original source” of the information. Other whistleblower programs, including those established by the SEC, CFTC, IRS and individual states have their own requirements and different provisions for whistleblower rewards:
- Under the Dodd-Frank Act, SEC and CFTC whistleblowers must voluntarily provide original information about a possible violation of the federal securities laws that has occurred, is ongoing, or is about to occur. The information provided must lead to a successful SEC or CFTC action resulting in an order of monetary sanctions exceeding $1 million.
- Under the IRS Whistleblower program, anyone (with the exception of a representative or officer of the U.S. Treasury) who makes a “substantial contribution” of information about a tax underpayment is eligible to receive a whistleblower reward.
Whistleblower Protection from Retaliation
Whistleblowers face huge risks by coming forward to report fraud against the government. For this reason, the False Claims Act and other whistleblower statutes provide for the payment of substantial rewards, up to 30% of recoveries in some cases, to individuals willing to take on these risks. For the same reason, the False Claims Act and other whistleblower provisions also protect reporters from retaliation on the part of their employers.
- Under the federal False Claims Act, whistleblowers who become targets of retaliation can sue for reinstatement, two times their back pay and other damages.
- The IRS Whistleblower Program established regulations that “protect the identity of the whistleblower to the fullest extent permitted by the law.” If revealing the whistleblower’s identity is essential in continuing the investigation, the IRS “will inform the whistleblower before deciding whether to proceed.” By protecting the identity of whistleblowers, these regulations help to shield them from employer retaliation.
- The Dodd-Frank Act includes a provision prohibiting employers from discharging, demoting, suspending, threatening, harassing or otherwise discriminating against an SEC or CFTC whistleblower. Relief includes reinstatement, double back pay with interest, and compensation for litigation costs, expert witness fees and reasonable attorneys’ fees.
- The Sarbanes-Oxley Act grants protection to whistleblowers against employer retaliation when an employee reports securities fraud by the company and its management upon shareholders. A targeted employee may be entitled to job reinstatement, back pay and benefits, compensation for mental pain and suffering, and payments for loss of future earnings and professional reputation, as well as reimbursement for expenses incurred during the litigation process, including attorney’s fees and other costs.
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 obtain a whistleblower reward in the event of a whistleblower settlement.
Good whistleblower cases have either well-documented evidence of significant government fraud or clear proof that a whistleblower has been a victim of retaliation after engaging in a protected whistleblower activity. Whistleblowers who successfully report fraud against the federal government can receive a reward that equals 15-30 percent of the government’s recovery.
To receive a whistleblower reward, you must follow strict rules and legal procedures. For example, filing a whistleblower lawsuit under the federal False Claims Act requires the following:
- the false claims whistleblower lawsuit must be filed by an attorney;
- the false claims whistleblower lawsuit must be filed under seal
- the false claims whistleblower lawsuit must be served on the Attorney General of the United States;
- the false claims whistleblower lawsuit must be supported by a comprehensive disclosure memorandum served only on the government, detailing substantially all the evidence in the whistleblower’s possession; and
- the false claims whistleblower lawsuit must remain on a secret court docket and cannot be disclosed to anyone except the government and your attorney.
Under the False Claims Act’s first-to-file rule, if another person has already filed a Qui Tam lawsuit involving the same facts in your case, your lawsuit will be dismissed. Under this rule, a delay of one day can mean the difference between winning and losing.
State whistleblower laws, and other federal whistleblower statutes have their own strict requirements that must be met before a lawsuit can be filed. As a result, you should always consult a whistleblower law firm to determine if your case qualifies for a whistleblower reward.