An employee who discloses information about an organization that he or she believes to be evidence of illegal activity, mismanagement, abuse of power, gross waste or fraud, general wrongdoing or is a substantial and specific danger to public health and safety is known as a whistleblower. Federal law protects whistleblowers, but the protections vary across industries. International organizations have also adopted internal policies that protect whistleblowers from retaliation; however, they do not have the force of law.
If you or someone you know is thinking of coming forward, contact seasoned whistleblower attorneys to protect your rights under the law. Whistleblowing is a difficult decision to make; as such, below are ten steps on how to do so effectively.
Make Sure Your Case Has Merit – cases investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, the Securities & Exchange Commission, or the Financial Conduct Authority must be based on evidence – not rumors or a hunch that something has gone awry. Government entities do not pay awards for generalized tips but, rather, specific evidence. Do not assume that simply having your attorney or the government subpoena documents will be sufficient to establish a legitimate case;
Keep Quiet– it is not uncommon for an individual to complain about internal fraud and end up with a pink slip; once fraud is identified, it is best for the person to remain silent and seek legal guidance from an attorney immediately (including what documents to make copies of) and take the proper steps before he or she is ousted from the company;
Welcome the Skepticism – it is a good thing if your attorney drills you with difficult question; convincing him or her has its own merit because this will not be the last time the allegations will be challenged;
Find a Seasoned Lawyer – before hiring a whistleblower attorney, make sure there are no conflicts of interest that exist (such as the company you are planning on exposing being a prior, current, or potential client); asking other whistleblowers may be a great place to start. Also, remember these attorneys work on a contingency fee – not an hourly fee – basis;
Expect a Long Road Ahead – it is important to understand that most defendants in whistleblower cases do not settle easily; in fact, often these companies do not fear negative press and media as one would be led to believe;
Know Anonymity Isn’t Guaranteed – any whistleblower attorney who guarantees the anonymity of a whistleblower is just not being truthful; while these types of cases are filed under seal – and there are other ways to try to avoid the plaintiff’s identity from being revealed – there is no assurance that this information will not be leaked out in some fashion;
Find Other Work – obtaining (and maintaining) employment during a whistleblower case will not only help you keep your sanity, but it will also safeguard your financial welfare; it should also be noted that the prospect of finding other work will likely diminish if and when the whistleblower’s identity is revealed;
Plan for Your Success – if you or your attorney is getting the sense that the case may be successful (for example, if the government intercedes in the matter) contacting a seasoned estate planner might be a good idea; should the case result in a large monetary award, having a plan ahead of time can keep you prepared for the future;
Realize the Gross is Not Your Share – first, never assume the case will settle for the maximum amount; second realize that other whistleblowers may come forward, lessening your portion of the award; finally, other costs such as criminal sanctions, attorneys’ fees and taxes will be taking out of the gross recovery prior to you receiving your money;
Seek Friendship – it is likely that no one will understand your circumstances except for another fellow whistleblower; think of approaching someone prior to seeking counsel for general guidance and remember that once the case has begun the only communication you can have regarding the matter is with your attorneys;
Gratitude is the Attitude – this demeanor is not easy during a whistleblower case because, unfortunately, it is possible that at the end of the day the culprits who likely got you fired will probably keep their jobs, get their year-end bonuses and possibly even get promoted; anger is not the answer and if this emotion is eating away at you, seek help right away; and
Help Others – support groups that seek to make sure whistleblowers are both protected and compensated; whistleblower laws are constantly under attack, eroding away safeguards, by financially supported lawyers and lobbyists.
Don’t do this alone. The skilled lawyers at Ricotta & Marks P.C. can handle many types of employment law issues including whistleblower matters. To schedule your initial case evaluation with a seasoned whistleblower attorney, call (347) 464-8694 today.