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3 things whistleblowers need to know

If you have discovered that your employer is committing some sort of fraud, you may be wondering if you should become a whistleblower. The government and various industries rely on whistleblowers to sound the alarm when some sort of corrupt practice is going on behind the scenes in business. 

Often, employees are aware of wrongdoing but are reluctant to call it out for fear of employer retaliation and getting fired. However, the law protects whistleblowers because you should not be punished for doing what is right. Here are three tips that can help you learn more if you feel you may need to blow the whistle on your employer or company:

1. The False Claims Act protects the government from fraud.

The U.S. federal government is able to prosecute individuals who defraud the government through a provision known as the False Claims Act. Oftentimes, companies that violate the False Claims Act are government contractors, such as medical companies that provide services to federally-funded programs like Medicare. Whistleblowers in these cases can bring what are known as "qui tam" cases to court. The qui tam provision of the False Claims Act allows individuals to file a legal action on the government's behalf.

2. Whistleblowers can recover financial damages.

If a qui tam action leads to damages awarded to the federal government, the whistleblower who revealed the fraud can be eligible to receive a portion, which is typically 15 to 25 percent of the overall damages. This is an incentive to encourage those who are aware of a company defrauding the government to come forward and reveal it.

This incentive helps the government protect itself from unscrupulous contractors and businesses. About 70 percent of False Claims Act cases brought over the past three decades have been the result of whistleblowers.

3. Federal whistleblower statutes protect you from retaliation.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a program to protect whistleblowers from retaliation. Workers are protected from retaliation under 22 federal laws. If your employer has retaliated against you for revealing fraudulent activity at your workplace, you should contact an attorney who works with qui tam and whistleblower claims. A lawyer can help you file a whistleblower claim as well as assist you in asserting your rights against employer retaliation.

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