Not sure how to file a whistleblower complaint? Before you blow the whistle on wrongdoing at your workplace you need to know if you have a case under current whistleblower law.
Remember—just because something is wrong does not mean it is illegal. And even if you have witnessed or participated in criminal activity it may not be one of the types of fraud covered under the False Claims Act or other whistleblower statutes. Can you provide the kind of whistleblower evidence needed to successfully prosecute a case? A good qui tam attorney will tell you if you have a whistleblowing case worth pursuing—without charging you a dime up front.
Before you blow the whistle …
- TALK TO A LAWYER.
The fastest way to find out for sure is to schedule a FREE, no-obligation, completely confidential conversation with a qualified, experienced whistleblower attorney like Tim McCormack. (You can skip reading the next thousand words and schedule a consultation right now at 207-747-7639.)Not ready to talk to Tim? You should still talk to a lawyer before blowing the whistle. Avoid any lawyer that wants to charge you hourly fees (unless they are just representing you on employment retaliation issues), pressures you to sign a big, cumbersome contract right off the bat, or who has not previously and personally handled multiple whistleblower cases. Our guide to picking a lawyer will help you find whistleblower representation you can trust when times get tough.
- IDENTIFY THE TYPE OF FRAUD YOU HAVE WITNESSED.
Only certain types of crimes can make a government whistleblower case. Health insurance fraud, government contracting fraud, securities fraud and tax fraud are some of the types of wrongdoing that typically qualify for whistleblower protection. Your lawyer will ask you detailed questions about your employer, the industry you work in, and the program you work for or know about with one goal in mind: to clearly identify the fraud committed and to clearly link it to damage to the government, company investors, or consumers.
- HOW BAD IS IT?.
Once your lawyer feels you have established criminal wrongdoing that falls under the False Claims Act or other whistleblowing statutes they will begin to think about the degree of wrongdoing you can describe. Certain factors can make your whistleblower case more attractive to authorities. If you are reporting healthcare fraud, does it go beyond cheating the government to harm patients? Is the scope of the fraud you can report very large? Does it fundamentally undermine trust in a program or a process people rely on? Is it connected to a current government enforcement priority, like opioid abuse?
- BE PREPARED TO PROVE IT.
You say you have witnessed criminal activity in your workplace. What do you think your workplace will say? Your word as a whistleblower is critical, but may not be enough to make your case. What kinds of documentary evidence do you have or can you help the government get? Common types of evidence courts like to see in whistleblower cases include accounting records, incriminating emails, voice messages about the fraud, your personal notes or journals, and more. Your lawyer may ask you if there are other people who can corroborate your case and develop a discovery plan to help you document the fraud before you report it.
- GET READY TO GET FIRED.
(And brace yourself for a barrage of attacks.) Any honest whistleblower attorney will tell you that you should be ready for retaliation the second you blow the whistle. Although your identity as a whistleblower will hopefully stay confidential for months or years, you need to prepare for the worst. No matter what your current position in your place of employment is, it can change—fast. Are you mentally and financially prepared? A good lawyer will help you choose the best time to blow the whistle, have a plan in place to protect you, be ready to handle severance agreements with releases and complicated provisions about returning copies of documents, public disclosure, the press, and much more. (Learn more about how Tim McCormack provides whistleblowers with some protection from retaliation.)
- UNDERSTAND YOUR PERSONAL LIABILITY.
First, you need to know that it is very common for whistleblowers to be involved in the crime they are reporting in some way. Most were uncomfortable from the start with what was going on but either did not have the stature in the company to stop it or tried unsuccessfully to change things from within. If you have participated in fraudulent activity at work, it is even more important to talk to an experienced lawyer about whether you can qualify for whistleblower protection—and what the limits of that protection are. You should know that the government typically goes out of its way to avoid prosecuting whistleblowers. Officials want people to come forward without fear. But there are certain things that can still get you in trouble, like telling part of the truth but hiding the rest, or destroying documents.Be completely honest with your lawyer and let your legal team decide how, and when, the whistle is blown. A good lawyer will understand what a big step blowing the whistle can be and will want to minimize your risk and maximize your rewards.
Still not sure if you have a whistleblower case? Call 207-747-7639 or submit a case evaluation form to schedule a free, no-obligation, and completely confidential whistleblowing case review with Tim McCormack today.