Whistleblowers are heroes; insiders willing to report dishonest or corrupt behavior by companies, health care providers, and contractors. They protect patients and save billions in taxpayer money. But the decision to blow the whistle, on your employer or on someone else, is not one to be taken lightly. The whistleblower process is long and demanding. The reward — if there is one — will be far in the future, and it may have real effects on your personal and professional life. Some concrete steps can help you make that decision and simplify your first experience with whistleblower law if you do decide to move forward.
1. Solidify your story
Make sure you have a clear narrative about what you’ve seen and what it means. Figure out how to explain your case as simply as possible. That means describing the specific conduct and explaining why it’s fraudulent or illegal. List the evidence supporting your story: Do you have documents? Witnesses you believe will corroborate your account? Policies or regulations that govern the conduct? Other evidence?
For many people, writing out the narrative helps to organize it. Similarly, organizing the documents — especially if you have a lot of them — can help clarify the conduct and demonstrate its illegality.
2. Research the law
A number of whistleblower laws on the books provide protection and, in many cases, rewards for whistleblowers exposing fraud. The False Claims Act is the most common; it provides for both rewards and protection from retaliation. However, numerous programs at both the federal and state level may be applicable to your situation. Understanding what whistleblower laws apply to you and thinking about how the facts of your case fit those laws will help you be more prepared and organized as you move forward.
3. Consider what’s at stake
Deciding to blow the whistle is an intensely personal decision at every step. The benefits to society are real, but so are the individual costs. A whistleblower lawyer will consider costs and risks against the possible or likely recovery when deciding whether to take your case. You should make your own preliminary evaluation, one that considers your personal values and goals against the severity of the conduct you’ve seen. Before you talk to a lawyer, understand how far you’re willing to go to bring the bad conduct to light. And know you’ll have to re-evaluate at each step along the road.
4. Reach out to a whistleblower lawyer
Once you’ve decided that you want to take the next step, it’s time to talk to a lawyer who can explain the relevant whistleblower laws and how they apply to your story in detail. Some things to understand as you identify an attorney:
- In most cases, the consultation will cost you nothing; most whistleblower attorneys — including the lawyers at Miller Law Group — work on contingency, which means they are paid out of any future recovery.
- Your conversation with the attorney is confidential, even if the lawyer does not take your case.
- You can talk to multiple lawyers. Knowledge and experience are important, of course, but so are more personal considerations. If you proceed with a whistleblower action, your lawyer will be your partner for years to come. At times, when your case is under seal or otherwise protected, they will be the only person you can talk to about the case. You want a lawyer you feel comfortable with, one whose values match your own.
The Initial Consultation And How To Prepare For It
At Miller Law, we work with whistleblowers to help them bring their knowledge of fraud and corruption to the attention of federal and state regulators. We guide our whistleblowers through every step of the process, ensuring their rights are protected along the way and answering every question that comes up.
If you think you have a claim under the False Claims Act or any whistleblower law, contact Miller Law Group for a free consultation.