Whistleblower lawsuits are all over the news these days, and for good reason. Not only have they proven to be one of the most effective methods of controlling corporate crime, they also hold the potential of rich reward for those who come forward and file a successful whistleblower lawsuit. Reporting fraudulent activity that results in a successful lawsuit can translate into the original relator receiving a percentage of the amount of money that the government recovers, and that means fifteen to twenty-five percent of what is recovered when the government joins the suit and twenty five to thirty percent of the award when the relator files the suit on their own. In real terms, this can mean millions of dollars, simply for having stepped forward and doing the right thing.
Still, despite the potential that these actions hold, they also carry risk and responsibility. For those who find themselves aware of wrongdoing that is running counter to the government or public interest and who are considering filing a whistleblower lawsuit in Philadelphia, there are a number of important considerations to keep in mind as you proceed, including:
- If you’re certain, then act quickly. There’s a good chance that if you know about a company’s nefarious acts that are cheating the government or causing the public harm, then others are aware as well – and when it comes to filing a whistleblower lawsuit, the rule is that the first one to file is the only one with the opportunity. Though there are definitely potential downsides to being the “relator” in a whistleblower lawsuit, the upside of a successful case is generally worth the aggravation.
- Things are likely to get ugly. Remember every movie you’ve ever seen about the hero turning in the wrongdoers and facing ugly retribution and retaliation, and assume that you’re in for the same type of treatment from people who you’ve previously called friends and colleagues. Retaliation for reporting fraud are officially protected acts, but the reality of the situation is that you need to be prepared.
- Be careful who you confide in. When you’re thinking about filing a whistleblower lawsuit, the decision is truly momentous. You’re giving serious thought to turning in people with whom you may have worked, and who may have taken you into their confidence, but who you know are committing unethical and illegal acts. It is totally normal to want to talk the situation out, but it’s important to remember that if you share the information with the wrong person you take the chance of risking either the case, or your ability to be the one to report the wrongdoing. Talking to nobody but your attorney is generally well-advised.
- Corporate compliance officers are not your friends, and corporate hotlines are not likely to make things right. When you’re in the uncomfortable position of knowing about wrongdoing and being unsure about what to do, there is a natural tendency to take the path of least resistance and provide the company with the opportunity to fix things without you having to make a fuss. Unfortunately, both the people who man those hotlines and the compliance officers are in the employ of those who are responsible for the problem, and their loyalty is likely to be to those who pay their salary rather than to you.
- Be sure of yourself and your information. When you’re preparing to file a whistleblower case, you are risking your career and your reputation within your industry. Don’t take what you’re about to do lightly and make sure that your information is correct and worthy of the government’s time and investment.
Taking on a whistleblower lawsuit is a serious responsibility and a decision that should not be taken lightly. For information about the process and how best to protect yourself, call the Philadelphia law firm of Bochetto & Lentz.
Learn more about Whistleblower Lawsuits HERE.