Author: Shelby Warden
Published: Nov 5 2012
Most people are honest and hardworking citizens who just want to go to work and earn a living. Unfortunately, there are others out there who tend to fill their pockets by engaging in unethical or illegal behaviors. It is extremely disheartening for an employee or volunteer when they become aware that the organization that they’re working for is engaging in some sort of fraud to turn a profit. An individual should never stray away from their morals or values in these situations, and there are several things that they can do to stop the injustice that is occurring.
The biggest mistake that a person can make is incorrectly assuming that their employer is engaging in some sort of fraud without solid evidence. Many business practices may seem unethical yet simply be a part of normal commerce. It’s often a good idea to bring the possibility of fraud up to a manager, but it is absolutely vital to garner evidence of the fraud before doing so.
One of two things can happen when a person brings up fraud to their employer. The employer can keep the employee on the payroll and deal with the issue in one of several ways, or they can simply fire the worker. If that employee hasn’t acquired the evidence necessary to prove fraud at this point; they may be completely out of luck if their manager fires them. It’s imperative not to steal any evidence, but making copies of it will surely help at a later date.
Far too many people do nothing when they see fraud occurring within their company. This is often because they are scared of losing their job, income and security. According to information from whistleblowersattorneys.com, when a company is committing fraud against the federal government, an employee is protected under the False Claims Act. That employee, who becomes known as a ‘whistleblower’, can file suit under the Act on the behalf of the government, and this immediately provides them several protections.
Changes to the False Claims Act in 1986 allowed whistleblowers who had been fired for reporting fraud to get their jobs back with seniority status. They are also entitled to special damages and benefits that they would’ve received if they had been working at the company during the time that they were terminated. Finally, they are entitled to receive double back pay for the troubles that they endured for reporting the issue.
These protections sometimes pale in comparison to the usual fifteen to twenty-five percent reward that whistleblowers get from the government for reporting the fraud. For instance, if a person’s company perpetrated a $100 million fraud and the federal government was able to recover all of this, the whistleblower would usually receive between $15 million and $25 million of that settlement. This is one of the incentives that the federal government provides for whistleblowers.
Reporting fraud against the federal government under the False Claims Act is a process. It is necessary to file a ‘qui tam’ action under seal which is basically a person filing a claim against their company on behalf of the government. The government will then decide whether to help with the case or not. It is vital that enough evidence is gathered so that the government is willing to help with the case; this will make dealing with the fraud perpetrator much simpler.
The best decision that most whistleblowers make is hiring an experienced whistleblower attorney. These lawyers know all of the laws related to reporting fraud against the government and can handle the process from start to finish. Terms like ‘qui tam’ and ‘under seal’ are basically foreign to the layperson. There are also several things that a person unaccustomed with the law can do to have their case completely thrown out, so having an experienced lawyer by their side can help the process move along without a glitch.
Employees should never have to betray their own sense of righteousness simply due to the immoral actions of their employer. These managers should never commit this type of fraud in the first place, and when they do, it is completely inappropriate for them to involve their employees in it. Luckily, the False Claims Act was made with the express purpose of giving honest and trustworthy employees a way to report rampant fraud while protecting their personal and financial wellbeing in the process.
Shelby Warden is a legal researcher that contributes articles for the attorneys of Goldberg Kohn who secured the largest judgment in False Claims Act history. You can learn more about your rights and benefits under the False Claims Act at whistleblowersattorneys.com. By coming forward to report fraudulent schemes against the government, you may be entitled to a financial reward and protection.
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