A whistleblower can be anyone who witnesses and reports misconduct to people or entities that can take corrective action through whistleblower policy. Whistleblower cases can involve a violation of any law or regulation. Under the whistleblower protection act, whistleblower laws protect and compensate the whistleblower, including the corporate whistleblower.
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Who is a Whistleblower?
Typically, the whistleblower receives a percentage of the lawsuit settlement funds. Whistleblowing is legally protected according to the subject matter and sometimes the state where the case arises from employer retaliation, but many whistleblowers still lose their jobs or are harassed and ostracized by other employees.
Whistleblower lawyers bring qui tam Pharmaceutical and Medicare fraud cases and cases involving other types of fraud under federal and state false claims laws.
The federal Fair Claims Act allows private citizens to sue on behalf of the government and get a portion of awards in cases where firms defraud the government.
In July 2010, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act went into effect, and contains increased incentives for securities fraud whistleblowers. It authorizes the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to reward those who expose fraud at public companies with from 10 to 30 percent of the amount it recovers over $1 million. The SEC is anticipating a significant increase in complaints, such as of securities fraud including manipulation of a security's price or volume, Ponzi schemes, insider trading, theft, bribery of foreign officials, and more.
Once a tip is received, attorneys in the SEC enforcement division evaluate the information and decide if enforcement action is necessary, then the SEC has nine months from passage to implement rules governing the process. And the new law provides that information received prior to rulemaking will be included in the reward program.
Laws and statute of limitations for whistleblowing cases vary. For instance:
- Employees or former employees may have up to 300 days to file a discrimination case against their company.
- Environmental whistleblowers have only 30 days to make a written complaint to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
- Federal employees complaining of violation of civil rights laws have only 45 days to make a written complaint to their equal employment opportunity (EEO) officer.
- Those reporting false claims against the federal government may have up to 6 years to file a civil lawsuit and may redeem 15-30% of the recovered funds under the U.S. False Claims Act.
In 2001, Vice President of Enron, Sherron Watkins blew the whistle on Enron's major accounting cover-up. The company and its auditors, Arthur Andersen, hid billions of dollars in debt, lied to their shareholders, and avoided paying federal income tax for years.
Depicted in a Hollywood film, The Insider shows the real-life story of how CBS reporters uncovered the malpractice and corruption of the tobacco industry and attempted to push past the corporate politics to have it aired on 60 Minutes.
Other whistleblower cases have involved misconduct in the FBI, the failure of government officials to protect the environment, illegal storage of hazardous waste, dumping of raw sewage and wastewater violations, nuclear accidents, corporate cover-ups, and more.
Pharmaceutical Qui Tam Whistleblower Lawsuits:
- Pfizer Inc. paid $1.8 billion to settle a qui tam lawsuit involving off-label marketing of Bextra. Pfizer paid an additional $500 million to settle five other qui tam lawsuits, bringing the total settlement to $2.3 billion.
- TAP Pharmaceuticals paid $875 million to settle criminal charges and two qui tam lawsuits, including one brought by Dr. Joseph Gerstein and Tufts Associated Health Maintenance Organization.
- Cephalon Inc., a pharmaceutical company, paid $425 million to the federal government and states to settle criminal charges and qui tam lawsuits filed by three whistleblowers.
Whistleblower Legal HelpIf you have identified illegal behavior by individuals or groups from a corporation or a government agency, please send your complaint to a lawyer by clicking on the link below. All your information will be kept private and confidential, and will only be sent to a lawyer who specializes in Whistleblower cases. There is no cost or obligation to have an attorney evaluate your whistleblower claim.
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