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Whistleblower Protection Act
In the United States, legal protections vary according to the subject matter of the case or the circumstances of the whistleblowing. The state in which the misconduct occurred may also have certain legal protections. In 2002, when the Sarbanes-Oxley Act was passed, the Senate Judiciary Committee found that whistleblower protections were dependent on the "patchwork and vagaries" of varying state statutes. Even so, a wide range of federal and state laws protect employees who call attention to violations, help with enforcement proceedings, or refuse to obey unlawful directions.
The first U.S. law put in place specifically to protect whistleblowers was the Lloyd-La Follette Act of 1912. It guaranteed the right of federal employees to furnish information to the United States Congress without the fear of losing employment. The first U.S. environmental law to include an employee protection was the Water Pollution Control Act of 1972, also known as the Clean Water Act. Since then many other industry specific laws have been adopted that protect whistleblowers.
Those who report a false claim against the federal government, and suffer adverse employment actions as a result, may have up to six years (depending on state law; see our State False Claims section) to file a civil suit for remedies under the U.S. False Claims Act. Under a qui tam provision, the "original source" for the report may be entitled to a percentage of the recovery that the government receives from the offenders. However, the "original source" must also be the first to file a federal civil complaint for recovery of the federal funds fraudulently obtained, and must avoid publicizing the claim of fraud until the United States Justice Department decides whether to prosecute the claim itself. Such qui tam lawsuits must be filed under seal, using special procedures to keep the claim from becoming public knowledge until the federal government makes its decision on direct prosecution.
Federal employees could benefit from the Whistleblower Protection Act, and the No Fear Act. These acts made individual agencies directly responsible for the economic sanctions of unlawful retaliation. Federal protections are enhanced in those few cases were the Office of Special Counsel will investigate the whistleblower's case.
Other whistleblower protection acts include the Military Whistleblower Protection Act which protects the rights of members of the armed services to communicate with Congress and other federal and state agencies.
Outside of the U.S., legal protection for whistleblowing varies from country to country. In the United Kingdom, the Public Interest Disclosure Act of 1998 provides guidelines for legal protection for individuals who disclose information so as to expose unlawful acts such as malpractice and matters of similar concern. In the vernacular, it protects whistleblowers from victimization and dismissal.
Each year, the government loses billions of dollars due to fraud and misconduct of companies and organizations. If you or someone you know has reason to believe that employer or government misconduct is present you may have legal options for compensation. In recent years, whistleblower litigation has helped save billions of government US dollars.
Those who witness these illegal actions have legal options and may seek compensation through litigation. Filing a claim against the entity responsible may result in compensation for the whistleblower that can be up to 25 percent of the government recovery. Billions have been rewarded to whistleblowers!
Whistleblower and false claims lawyers understand that their clients may be overwhelmed by the case and even too stressed to deal with the details of filing a lawsuit or attending trial. For this reason, whistleblower lawyers handle every aspect of the case. Call today to confidentially speak to an attorney.