A significant amount of social, political, and business reform can be attributed to the actions of whistleblowers, who often suffered persecution and retaliation, in many different forms, because of their advocacy. Today however, there are luckily ways to help protect the integrity and safety of whistleblowers, attempting to expose unsavory or illegal affairs going on. Legally, whistleblowers are known as qui tam relators and a whistleblower lawyer will follow a qui tam lawsuit procedure to protect his or her client, should retaliation occur. This became necessary after whistleblower retaliation statistics were brought forward and the False Claims Act, which originated under Lincoln’s presidency has helped whistleblowers feel increasingly safe to step forward with false claims cases. It’s one of the major ways the government protects itself against fraud.
What’s the Real Threat of Retaliation?
Although around 65% of employees who witness wrongdoing going on their company will report it, a significant percentage will also choose to look the other way. When this group was polled, almost half the respondents said that they chose not to speak up because they feared retaliation. Of those who do report wrongdoing, such as fraud, over 20% said they faced some sort of retaliation. It can easily ruin someone’s life, career, and relationships, both personal and professional. For this reason, it’s important that whistleblower protection is in place — it helps our society and businesses stay honest and keeps those accountable who would try to undermine or cheat the system.
What is the Importance of a Whistleblower in Today’s Society?
Put simply, fraud is expensive and whistleblowers help expose it, among other things. Fraud can cost a company around 5% of its total revenue and one of the best and most common ways of exposing it is through whistleblowing. Between 1996 and 2004, one out of every five corporate fraud cases was found out by employees and a whistleblower brought it to attention. It helps the federal government too. The U.S. Department of Justice has statistics that show that since 1987, the federal government has recouped almost $40 billion in cases that were brought forward using the primary qui tam statute, the False Claims Act.
The increase of qui tam false claims every year may in part be helped by the 1986 False Claims Act amendments, and the number has gone up drastically in the last ten years. The Department of Justice started to follow and record qui tam case filings in 1987 and since then, over 7,000 cases have been filed. These types of cases make up over 60% of all false claims litigation. The rest have been started through the government. In the last 24 years, the Department of Justice estimates that the average yearly increase of new qui tam filings has been around 13%.
How Does a Qui Tam Lawsuit Procedure Work?
The first thing a whistleblower wanting to initiate a qui tam lawsuit procedure needs is a trial lawyer, usually one with an extensive knowledge of the False Claims Act and multiple successful lawsuits dealing with the FCA. You and your lawyer will review all the evidence you have and he or she will decide if it’s enough to bring a civil action in the District Court where the fraud occurred. You need to have strong evidence, or it’s likely your case will never even get off the ground. You have to be able to pinpoint exactly what your employer’s role in the fraud was, when it occurred (there is a time limit to when these cases can be brought forward), how you learned about the fraud, if your company received reimbursement from the government, and any other witnesses. You’ll then draft the complaint, file it, and wait for the government investigation to occur. Hopefully, the investigation will result in winning the case and you’ll be able to collect your reward and ensure that justice has been performed.
A qui tam lawsuit procedure is a way that the average American can be involved in the justice system of the country. Whistleblowers perform an important service to the country, in keeping the powers that be in check and accountable for their actions.