How To Blow The Whistle
First and foremost, it is critical that if you are thinking about blowing the whistle, you should consult an experienced whistleblower lawyer.
This is particularly true where a whistleblower has been terminated and is being asked to sign a severance or separation agreement. Often, in the context of settlement, these agreements contain releases (i.e., a legal instrument that acts to terminate any legal liability between the company and the whistleblower) that will seek to release all potential claims against the company, including any rights the whistleblower has to bring, or recover from a lawsuit under the False Claims Act, or any other whistleblower statute. In other words, the company asks the whistleblower to sign a document that prohibits the whistleblower from suing the company for the fraud they observed at the company before being terminated.
A whistleblower should consult with an experienced attorney to determine whether an agreement he/she is being asked to sign could potentially waive any rights, including his/her right to bring a lawsuit or their ability to collect from a lawsuit they brought based on any fraudulent conduct observed while at the company.
It is also important for whistleblowers to consider what they want to accomplish by blowing the whistle. While the reward incentives provide a potential mechanism for whistleblowers to be compensated while doing the right thing, many cases do not result in a substantial recovery. Thus, a whistleblower’s motive for reporting fraud should always include a desire to right a wrong, and prevent future harm to taxpayers, the Federal and/or State Governments, and, in some healthcare fraud cases, sick, disabled, and/or elderly patients.
If you have considered all of the above, consulted with an experienced attorney, and decided to proceed with a potential lawsuit against the company, you will need to put together a compelling complaint with strong evidentiary support and significant damages that peaks the Government’s interest and persuades it to bring the case.
There are many components to a strong case, and there is no magic formula, but here are the 10 secrets to a successful whistleblower case.
Note: Whistleblowers, particularly those actively employed by the company, should always keep in mind that there are proprietary and confidentiality implications to removing evidence and documents supporting their claims, especially when a confidentiality agreement is in place. In some cases, for public policy reasons, the law protects whistleblowers and the Government due to the importance of rooting out fraud, allowing disclosure despite confidentiality. However, it is important to keep in mind that whistleblowers should not actively attempt to remove documents that are outside of their possession and should never remove original documents.