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What Is a Whistleblower?

Whistleblower lawyers explain the origin and clarify a commonly misunderstood term.

What Is a Whistleblower?
What Is a Whistleblower?

// San Francisco, CA, USA // KellerGroverWB (Blog) // Jeffrey Keller

Although the word whistleblower may appear in the news quite often, many people remain confused as to what a whistleblower actually is. The term whistleblower probably came from the practice of police officers ‘blowing the whistle’ when they saw a crime being committed which alerted other officers and the public of the crime. In the modern age of white collar crime the term whistleblower describes any person who has witnessed wrongdoing or other illegal activities and “blows the whistle” by calling attention to the bad acts. The alleged wrongdoing may include illegal activities such as healthcare fraud, defense contractor overbilling, wage and hour violations, or environmental contamination. A whistleblower acts by reporting the illegal activity either internally, by advising a supervisor about the situation, or externally, by going to a law enforcement agency, the media or a regulatory agency.

Whistleblowers serve an important role in society by exposing and preventing fraud and other illegal activities. This is especially true when the whistleblower is exposing fraud on the government since it helps to police the legitimate use of our scarce and valuable tax dollars. To encourage whistleblowers to expose an individual or a company that submits a false or fraudulent claim to the government, the federal and state governments have enacted laws, which allow a whistleblower to bring a qui tam lawsuit on behalf of the government. If the qui tam lawsuit is successful, a whistleblower receives a reward ranging from 10 to 30 percent of the government’s recovery, depending on a variety of factors and assuming that they are the sole whistleblower, as a reward for exposing the fraud and helping to return money to the government coffers.

Unfortunately, whistleblowers often face retaliation in their jobs and stress in their personal lives when they try to expose wrongdoing whether it is a fraud on the government or some other misdeed. In order to protect these citizens, federal and state governments have enacted laws to protect whistleblowers from retaliation by their employers. These whistleblower protection laws allow a whistleblower to sue an employer for monetary damages when the employer has retaliated against the whistleblower for reporting the wrongdoing.

Before blowing the whistle on fraud against the government or calling attention to other corporate misdeeds, seek the advice of whistleblower lawyers who thoroughly understand the whistleblower laws and can advise you on how these laws apply to your particular situation. If you have information about a possible fraud on the government or have suffered retaliation for trying to report wrongdoing in your workplace, contact the whistleblower attorneys at Keller Grover LLP at 866-486-1537 or via email at info@kellergrover.com.



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