October 15, 2019 | North Carolina Whistleblower
Whistleblower Rights: What You Need To Know
It’s not always easy coming forward when you know or suspect that your employer is cheating American taxpayers. You want to do your patriotic duty by exposing a greedy institution that cheats the government and taxpayers, but the prospect is unnerving, and we understand that.
No one can blame you. If you expose the information you have, it could send fraudsters in your company to prison, ruin their reputation, force them to pay back three times as much as they stole, and more. The company could even go bankrupt and shut down.
There’s a lot at stake for them — and for you. That is why the federal government offers whistleblowers protection against employer retaliation under the federal False Claims Act.
The government cannot stop fraud on its own. It needs courageous citizens like you to lead the fight. That is why the federal False Claims Act empowers you to sue people or entities that are defrauding the government and allows you to also benefit from what the government recovers in a successful claim.
The federal False Claims Act and North Carolina False Claims Act both impose treble (or triple) damages on culpable defendants.
With a federal claim, you, the whistleblower, could receive anywhere from 15 to 25% of all money recovered by the government, if the government intervenes in the case and the case is successful.
If the government doesn’t join your qui tam lawsuit and you proceed on your own with a lawyer, you could potentially receive 25 to 30% of the government’s recovery if your case succeeds.
In addition to providing potential financial rewards, the Act states that your enforceable rights include protection from retaliatory acts by your employer. Prohibited acts include, but are not limited to:
- Verbal or written reprimands
- Demotion or duty reassignment
- Constructive discharge (harassing you or making your work environment uncomfortable until you quit)
- Retaliatory lawsuits
So what happens if your employer disregards the law? The False Claims Act states that any employee who is harassed, demoted, discriminated against, or fired for filing a whistleblower lawsuit is generally entitled to be “made whole.” Depending on the nature and extent of the employer retaliation, this could include:
- Paying you up to twice the amount of back pay owed, plus interest
- Reinstatement to the same level of seniority in the company
- Special damages like reasonable attorney’s fees and litigation costs
Many states and certain jurisdictions have their own whistleblower laws modeled after the federal False Claims Act. For example, the North Carolina False Claims Act has a qui tam provision that lets whistleblowers bring an action on behalf of the state and share in any recovery. (Depending on whether or not the North Carolina Attorney General gets involved, this could be between 15% and 30% of the amount recovered.) It can also protects you from retaliation by your employer if you file a claim or assist the state.
Depending on your industry, you could also be covered by federal programs that were created to reward and protect whistleblowers who come forward in specific industries. They cover areas like tax fraud, securities violations, motor vehicle safety, and threats to wildlife and the environment.
Contact a Carolina Whistleblower Attorney
Working with an experienced Carolina Whistleblower Attorney can potentially make or break your case. If you can’t stand to watch your employer or any other parties rob taxpayers, let’s talk. Our mission is to fight fraud and try to protect those courageous individuals who want to do the right thing. To schedule a free, confidential conversation, contact us or call 1-888-292-8852.
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Contact the Carolina
If you’re wondering if it’s a good idea to speak with a whistleblower lawyer about what you know, let us set the record straight.
- Corporate ethics hotlines can be risky and may lead to termination. If you’ve already done this, call us immediately.
- Your coworkers could be aware of the fraud – or complicit in it – and you should not talk to them about it.
- The first claim to be filed under the False Claims Act can proceed – if you’re not first, you’re at a serious disadvantage and may get nothing (another reason not to speak to your coworkers about it).
- A confidential discussion costs you a few minutes, but could save you time, stress, and money.
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