September 30, 2019 | North Carolina Whistleblower
Top 5 Myths People Believe About Whistleblower Lawsuits and Why They’re Wrong
If you suspect or know your employer is defrauding American taxpayers and the government, and you’re thinking about blowing the whistle on them, we applaud your willingness to fight on the side of justice. Without courageous individuals like you, corrupt organizations would continue to greedily take your tax money for their private purposes.
Fraudsters steal from hardworking American taxpayers, and exposing their activities is an act of heroism, not “snitching.” In some cases, like healthcare fraud, you could even be saving lives.
Unfortunately, whistleblower lawsuits are often subject to myths that arouse fear, raise unrealistic expectations, and in general, give people the wrong idea of what’s involved and how to go about pursuing North Carolina qui tam claims effectively. Let’s take a closer look at five common misunderstandings and why they’re wrong.
Myth #1: You have to report fraud to your employer or a company compliance hotline before filing a whistleblower claim
A lot of would-be whistleblowers believe that they have to report the fraud to their employer or a hotline that’s been set up by their company for corporate compliance before filing a whistleblower claim. Worried about being harassed, demoted, or fired, they stay silent about what they know.
However, there is no law requiring you to tell your employer what you know. Although many people have done so and filed their qui tam lawsuits only after being harassed or fired, you should know that, through filing a qui tam lawsuit, you can have your concerns investigated by the government — without revealing your information publicly or to your employer. In fact, that’s the approach we recommend! Click here for more info.
You should also know that there are specific whistleblower protection and rewards programs, depending on your industry. With so many laws, programs, and nuances, we recommend first consulting with an Carolina Whistleblower Attorney who’s experienced in handling whistleblower claims.
Myth #2: Your employer and coworkers will know if you file a fraud claim
Are you worried that if you blow the whistle, your employer will find out right away and retaliate? While this possibility would alarm anyone, here’s the truth: under the False Claims Act and most state whistleblower laws, your case is kept “under seal” while the government investigates your allegations. This is to prevent interference by the company while the government verifies and investigates your claim.
The reality is that investigations can take months, and even years, to conclude. At the conclusion, the Department of Justice (DOJ) may or may not decide to become involved. If the DOJ declines to intervene after a thorough investigation, you may still pursue the claim on your own. At this point, your identity does become public knowledge, although in some circumstances the court may grant you anonymity. You then have the option to pursue the claim privately with your whistleblower lawyer.
Myth #3: Large financial rewards are all hyped up
Granted, not all successful qui tam cases result in huge recoveries. However, neither private attorneys nor the government will typically file a case unless the financial losses are substantial.
Just in fiscal year 2018, the Justice Department recovered over $2.8 billion from False Claims Act cases. Of that number, $2.1 billion was the result of whistleblowers’ successful qui tam lawsuits, meaning whistleblowers themselves were entitled to between 15% and 25% of the recovery if the government participated, and up to 30% if it didn’t — and the relator ultimately prevailed. In September 2018, the SEC announced an award of $39 million to one whistleblower and $15 million to another. While few rewards are this high, they’re not mythical.1,3
The size of the possible award is based on a percentage of what the court orders the alleged perpetrators to pay in damages. While there is never a guarantee that your claim will be successful, or that the government will decide to intervene in your case, whistleblower awards can be life changing. There is always a guarantee that a successful whistleblower (aka “relator”) will be protected by the relevant whistleblower reward program and will share in the recovery.
Myth #4: You should take your time if you know something
The reality is that whistleblower claims have Statutes of Limitations that limit the timeframe during which you can submit a claim. The clock starts running at very specific trigger points, so you want as much time as possible to explore your legal options.
Not only does the clock start running, but if someone else has filed an FCA lawsuit that uses the same evidence as what you present, you may be barred from filing one yourself. Time — and timing — is of the essence.
Myth #5: You don’t need an attorney
We wouldn’t recommend flying solo to any of our friends or family.
Whistleblower reward programs can be nuanced and difficult to comprehend. An experienced whistleblower attorney who knows the applicable laws and procedures can help you confirm whether or not you have a case. They’ll try to develop your case into a strong lawsuit, and steer you away from common pitfalls.
Find a lawyer who understands your case, cares about you, and will act in your best interests.
Contact a Carolina Whistleblower Attorney
If you know that your employer is helping themselves to taxpayer money and it’s killing you inside, let’s talk.
We applaud you for your courage and will help you try to build a case that can end your employer’s wrongdoing and compensate you for your efforts. To schedule a 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.