Whistleblowers are courageous individuals who recognize when something illegal is happening within the organization that they work for and call it to the attention of authorities. Whether the misconduct represents theft of public funds or something that is creating a direct threat to the public interest or safety, whistleblowers report what they have seen knowing that they face the possibility of serious repercussions. If you become aware of a situation that needs to be exposed, you have the potential of being rewarded with a portion of the savings you provide the government … but in order for that to happen you need to make sure that you are represented by an experienced whistleblower attorney.
When you learn of wrongdoing within your company and make the decision to do the right thing, it is not as simple as picking up the phone and calling in a tip. Despite the fact that federal, state and city organizations strongly encourage and reward whistleblowers, they also insist that a specific process must be followed in order for the whistleblower to receive a portion of the recovery as well as to receive the protections from retribution that they are due.
Filing a whistleblower claim and having it work its way through the proper channels involves having your attorney build a compelling narrative of the case. A whistleblower attorney will gather all of the evidence that you have available and put it together into a carefully-crafted presentation for the appropriate agency or regulator. The complaint must be delivered “under seal,” which means that it is not viewed by the public. The submitted information is then reviewed by the agency to determine whether they are going to pursue the case. If not, then you as whistleblower have the option of proceeding with the prosecution on your own on behalf of the government. This process can take many years and requires a great deal of patience, but it is important to remember that only the first person who submits a whistleblower accusation is entitled to the corresponding recovery. Working with an attorney who understands how to tell your story but also how to put it together as quickly as possible is essential.
An experienced whistleblower attorney will not only develop your case meticulously, they will also stress to you the absolute importance of your discretion. Once you have made the decision to come forward and turn in your employer it is imperative that you tell nobody about the case outside of your attorney and the regulating agency involved.
Filing a whistleblower case can be very rewarding. Not only do you get the moral satisfaction of knowing that you’ve done the ethical thing, you also are entitled to between ten and thirty percent of the government’s recovery. The formulas that are used in determining exactly what the penalty is are generally very aggressive, so the amount that is recovered is generally substantial, and much of that has to do with the amount of risk that the government acknowledges that a whistleblower is taking. When making the decision to proceed with turning in an employer, the most important aspect of your decision lies in your choice of attorney. Make sure that you are working with a firm that has extensive experience and success in filing whistleblower claims.
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