When one “blows the whistle” on acts of fraud, wrongdoing, waste, or corruption, he or she reports it to the authorities. Whistleblowing can refer to an employee reporting an employer for wrongful acts, such as discrimination and harassment, or coming forward with information about fraud against the government, such as tax evasion. Citizens can significantly help the safety, health, and economy of the country by becoming whistleblowers and exposing unlawful acts or practices. At Butler Wooten & Peak LLP, we want to help whistleblowers file claims and earn compensation for their actions.
There are federal and Georgia state laws that protect employees who blow the whistle on their employers. Georgia law encourages employees to report ethical, legal, or safety violations by offering protection and possible compensation for any retaliation, such as job termination or demotion. If an employee experiences retaliation for whistleblowing, he or she can file a claim against the employer and recover for:
Don’t be afraid to report illegal conduct at work. If you notice your employer committing harassment, health or safety violations, discrimination, or wage crimes, report it to the government. Note that you will need to file two claims if you experienced retaliation – one for the employer’s wrongdoing and another to pursue compensation for retaliation. Prepare to make your report by gathering as much information about the claim as possible. If you’re ever unclear on the process, don’t hesitate to speak to an attorney.
Aside from whistleblowing in the workplace, one can also blow the whistle against any individual or entity for defrauding the government. These cases fall under the protection of the False Claims Act, which gives incentives to persons who give information about fraud that leads to the government recovering lost funds. These claims take the form of qui tam lawsuits, in which the claimant files on behalf of the government. The government may or may not choose to intervene in the case.
Depending on the level of intervention from the government and the circumstances surrounding the claimant reporting fraud, the claimant could receive compensation in the form of 10-30% of any settlement award and penalties the case receives. Charges on behalf of the government start with filing a sealed complaint to the government before going to court. The government then has 60 days, unless it files an extension, to review the claim and decide whether or not to intervene. The government could also file a motion to dismiss the case at this point.
Once you receive the government’s answer, you will either elect to continue the case on your own or let the government take over your claim. If the government does intervene, you are still entitled to a compensation award. However, the percentage may be smaller. Always seek help from an attorney for qui tam lawsuits. They are often complex and involve strict processes for filing. Breaking the rules while filing can lead to the courts refusing to hear your case, and even put your confidentiality at risk.
If you’re experiencing anything that puts you in a position to become a whistleblower, come to Butler Wooten & Peak LLP, for a free consultation. We can help you understand the protections and potential awards you could receive for giving up critical information about criminal acts against the government. Contact us today to schedule your confidential case evaluation in Georgia.