Certain whistleblower laws require the whistleblower to show that they provided non-public information in order to receive a whistleblower award. This requirement leads many prospective whistleblowers to ask whether they can be a whistleblower after being fired.
A fired employee can be a whistleblower. In fact, fired employees are sometimes the most effective whistleblowers, especially when their termination was the result of them speaking up internally. These workers often have inside information into the fraud or misconduct and were brave enough to report it internally, leading to retaliation or termination for flimsy or pretextual reasons. In this situation, workers have both whistleblower and wrongful termination claims.
What is the False Claims Act?
State and federal False Claims Acts allow whistleblowers who witness misconduct to file a qui tam lawsuit where they essentially step into the shoes of the government and all taxpayers and enforce the government's right to be free from fraud. The False Claims Act is the most successful whistleblower law in the world and has allowed the government to recover billions of stolen taxpayer dollars.
Whistleblowers under the False Claims Act are entitled to 15 to 30% of the government's total recovery, which can include triple damages (meaning that wrongdoers owe the government three times the amount they made from the fraud). Qui tam awards to whistleblowers under the False Claims Act can total many millions of dollars.
How Does the False Claims Act Protect Whistleblowers?
Often, employees of government contractors observe that their employer is defrauding the government. They may not contact a lawyer and instead raise informal concerns internally, believing that their employer is acting in good faith and will respond by fixing the problem.
Unfortunately, many companies will retaliate against people who challenge their illegal conduct, or don't "toe the company line." These employees may well be fired as their employer hopes that firing them will brush the problem under the rug and preserve millions of dollars of government revenue.
These whistleblowers have claims for retaliation as well as the ability to bring qui tam lawsuits on behalf of the government.
What is the Importance of Whistleblowing?
Whistleblowers are critically important in protecting consumers, taxpayers, and the public. There are two alternatives to whistleblowing: (1) the company may face scandal, fines, or criminal prosecution when the information comes to light or (2) the company gets away with its wrongdoing and never faces accountability. The possibility of scandal or liability is why companies should welcome and protect whistleblowers. Unfortunately, a mistaken belief that the company will "get away with it" often causes companies to retaliate against whistleblowers.
Talk to an Experienced Whistleblower Rights Attorney
We understand that shining light on government contractor fraud is a big decision. While we believe that calling out wrongdoers is the right thing to do, for taxpayers and for our democracy, we want what's best for you and are happy to talk you through your situation. You shouldn't have to make the decision alone and deserve to talk through the potential consequences, both positive and negative.
If you have witnessed conduct that violates the False Claims Act, do not hesitate to contact us today through our website or give us a call at (213) 214-3757 to schedule a free consultation. All consultations are 100% confidential and we will work with you to maintain confidentiality as much as the law allows.