Making the decision to work with an attorney to bring a whistleblowing claim or otherwise provide information to the federal government in pursuit of a whistleblower reward can be deeply stressful and unnerving. The dilemma you face of whether to take the steps to report wrongdoing by others versus just letting the status quo continue is not necessarily is an easy one. Whistleblowing is a big step, and you should certainly think through the arguments on both sides prior to taking action. Below we take a look at the common pros and cons associated with whistleblowing.
The Pros of Whistleblowing
Helping Your Neighbors by Fighting Corruption
Corruption and government waste are one of the biggest economic drains on society. Anytime a contractor overcharges the government, or an entity engages in fraudulent activity, they are making income by cheating someone else out of their hard-earned money. When the federal government is the victim of this fraud, it is all of us taxpayers who suffer. The government cannot possibly patrol all fraudulent activity on its own, so it depends on courageous insiders to bring information to help protect our economy.
Make Sure Wrongdoers are Not Rewarded
When a business is allowed to get away with cheating the government because people who know about the illegal activity are too timid to come forward, then, to put it bluntly, the bad guys win. The honest contractors and providers suffer in the marketplace as the wrongdoers get a competitive advantage from their cheating, and, again, it’s us the taxpayers that end up paying them the spoils of their misdeeds. By coming forward with information, you help to make sure we live in a society where cheating does not become the pathway to success.
Win Large Financial Rewards
The government recognizes that whistleblowers are acting courageously to do what is right, and so the law includes generous financial rewards for whistleblowers who provide information leading to a recovery. These rewards can be quite substantial, and between the years of 2009 and 2014, whistleblowers were able to collect $4.8 billion in rewards for bringing forward claims. The SEC, CFTC, IRS, and agencies overseeing Medicare also offer generous financial rewards to those who bring evidence of wrongdoing.
The Cons of Whistleblowing
Your Job/Career May Be Threatened
It is the case that an employee who brings a whistleblowing claim or otherwise provides information to the government can face retaliation from an employer and may have difficulty in getting hired in related fields going forward. But many types of whistleblowing claims may be brought confidentially, at least initially, and employers are prevented from engaging in certain retaliatory practices. And while your earnings from a given field may be put in jeopardy, the potential financial rewards can outweigh the losses.
Your Allegations May Not Hold Up
As a whistleblower, you may have only partial visibility into potential wrongdoing and you may not be completely clear on the applicable law for the situation. Thus, there is a danger of bringing an incorrect allegation that does not hold up on the law and/or the facts. Again, however, many whistleblowing claims can initially be brought confidentially, and your employer may never knew a claim was brought if it does not go anywhere. Furthermore, you can speak with a whistleblower attorney completely confidentially to determine whether there is enough substance for your claim to go forward.
The Process Can Be Lengthy
Whistleblowing claims can take several years on average from the time that a whistleblower begins working with an attorney to the time that a financial reward is made. But, given the amount of the potential rewards and the positive effect on society of taking a stand, the delay may well be worth it.
Legal Guidance for Whistleblowers
You don’t have to go through the process of deciding whether to go forward as a whistleblower on your own. Kreindler & Associates is dedicated exclusively to protecting and helping whistleblowers who make the courageous decision to expose fraud. If you are considering making a whistleblower claim or feel that you’ve been the victim of wrongful retaliation for having done so, contact us today. We’re here to answer all of your questions and guide you through the whistleblowing process.