Fraud is everywhere and ever present. We can’t avoid it, and we can’t stop it all. Sometimes it feels like there’s no way around it. The worst part is that many people don’t really know what to do about it when they are faced with the situation.
Here they are, stuck in a giant corporation a large defense contractor organization or some other “Goliath”, feeling like the smallest “David” ever!
But the truth is quite different. The whistleblower laws here in the United States are the best in the world. There are specific statutes on point for so many types of industries. The best of the bunch is the False Claims Act (FCA) that allows whistleblowers to bring a case against the defrauding company and team up with a lawyer who will work on a contingency. That lawyer may even be able to help get government lawyers involved.
Before you decide to become a whistleblower, I would suggest you take a moment to reflect on these seven ideas:
1. Are you comfortable with the idea that the False Claims Act will protect you? If not, you must get a lawyer to help you put together a solid package, so the government is able to work as it is designed to and can use the law to protect you.
2. Do you have the money for a consultation? If you do not, you need to call a trusted attorney who can assist you in beginning the process and find out if they charge for a consultation. At LaBovick Law Group, we take cases on a contingency, which means we do not charge you up front or for the qui tam/whistleblower consultation.
3. If you submit anything in writing or in the form of an interview, make sure you use the term “FRAUD.” The minute you raise that term you will create a legal obligation for the company not to fire you for making a fraud allegation against them. You are protected by the anti-retaliation provisions in the law. Trust me, they are powerful.
Certainly, there are companies who don’t care and will fire employees for raising fraud concerns. But, if your claim for firing as retaliation follows your claim of fraud in your company, it will greatly help your ability to get paid in the long run. The more specific you can be in the allegation, the better.
4. Be specific when you make your complaint. Don’t ever just make a general allegation. If you don’t have the facts, you should back off if possible. Gather more information, and then put those facts into writing. Whether it is a note or a formal letter, write it down. It is said that, “The oral word will fly away but the written word is here to stay.” Also make notes after all conversations. Try and recall exact quotes of all parties. It will help greatly in the long run.
5. Keep all copies of documents you are provided that show or prove the fraud. Do not take documents you are not typically entitled to touch during your job or those that are not necessary to prove the fraud. If you have proof of the fraud given to you in your normal scope of employment, then you need to keep that evidence and call your attorney immediately.
6. On the employment side, make sure to secure your employment file. You will need every positive review and award or accolade you ever received from the beginning of your employment. It is a powerful tool to have a great review followed up by a firing after a report of fraud. It is almost the perfect storm of a case.
7. Don’t sign the severance agreement or release. Employers love to leverage you with money at the end of an employment deal. Talk to an attorney first. There are ways around many things.
At this point, many smart employers are asking employees to release their right to bring a qui tam case. DO NOT sign that right away! Call us or an attorney with whom you feel comfortable before you make any major moves.
Qui tam is the most complex type of civil case. These cases are filled with documents, cover-ups and large corporate counsel fighting hard to keep their company clear of any issues. You need experienced prosecutors who have proven records of success with government cases to make your qui tam case fly.