The Potential Risks and Rewards of Becoming a Whistleblower

February 24, 2023

The term “whistleblower” is used to describe an individual who exposes illegal, unethical, or fraudulent activities within an organization and it’s critical to engage the right whistleblower law firm early before you take any action or you may wind up hurting yourself with no upside or whistleblower award to show for it. It takes courage and guts to report fraud or other illegal conduct against a large company or institution, especially if you are employed there. Because the act of whistleblowing can have significant consequences for you it is important to thoroughly understand these potential upsides and downsides before making the decision to blow the whistle. By consulting an experienced whistleblower law firm like Brown, LLC, you can receive important guidance regarding the various risks and consequences that a whistleblower may face, so you can make the most informed decision about whether to move forward with your case and protect your whistleblower rights.

The Risks of Becoming a Whistleblower

First and foremost, if you’re blowing the whistle, you better make sure there’s a whistle to blow!  Sounds simple, but unless you can invoke a specific statute that provides protection or a relator statute such as the False Claims Act that allows the plaintiff to obtain a portion of the government’s recovery, then you may be just blowing smoke rather than the whistle and left naked without any protection. This is where consulting an experienced whistleblower attorney is critical. Using the right whistleblower law firm that knows how to navigate the legal protections available to whistleblowers, you can try to invoke the correct statute which gives your protections and access to whistleblower rewards, or else receive the candid news early that your particular situation is not protected under a whistleblower statute.  

There are multiple laws on the books that protect individuals who have the courage to report illegal activity, so that they are not punished for doing the right thing. Many statutes include provisions that prohibit retaliation, harassment, or discrimination against those who report a violation, whether internally within a company or to a government agency. This is another reason why it is crucial to not “go it alone” but recruit an experienced attorney knowledgeable in all the different ways that the law protects whistleblowers.  At Brown, LLC, a preeminent whistleblower firm that has recently been recognized as one of the most prolific whistleblower law firms in recent years, whistleblowers can receive a free, confidential, and privileged consultation. The consultation will go over the strengths and weaknesses of your case, as well as any outcomes that you may be concerned about.

Because each person’s situation and each case is unique, it is not possible to outline all the different risks that may exist in your particular situation. However, below are some common concerns from whistleblowers when they are deciding whether to blow the whistle.

Potential Employment Retaliation

There are several immediate antidotes against retaliation. For example, under the SEC whistleblower program with the use of an SEC whistleblower attorney, the CFTC whistleblower program and many other programs you can potentially remain anonymous from start to finish.  Under the False Claims Act, the case is initially filed confidentially and under seal so Defendant is not aware of the whistleblower claim potentially for many years, which inherently has its own protections and gives the whistleblower time to plan.  If you choose to report illegal conduct at your place of employment by your employer, you are doing so at the risk of losing your job, unless you blow the whistle the right way. Under the law, your employer cannot punish or retaliate against you simply because you reported fraudulent conduct if the correct statute is invoked, the key is to make sure you’re covered by the right whistleblower statute.  If you invoke the correct whistleblower statute, you will enjoy protections from retaliation that often call for double damages plus attorneys’ fees, and from companies often pay handsomely to part ways with a whistleblower if the individual wishes to separate from the company

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Rewards of Being a Whistleblower

While there are potential downsides, it is also important to consider the potential benefits and whistleblower rewards that an individual can receive. Each year over the last decade hundreds of millions of dollars go to whistleblowers who do so in the right manner, so individuals are economically incentivized to do the right thing. Further, there is some solace knowing that the adventure one is about to embark on is for the betterment of the system, and sometimes can concretely have health and safety benefits to the public and others economic salvation to a system that’s ripe with fraud.

Under certain circumstances, whistleblowers may be entitled to receive financial compensation that is a percentage of what the government recovers or fines an entity for bringing a violation to light utilizing the correct whistleblower statute. For example, under the False Claims Act, whistleblowers are entitled to receive up to 30% of the money recovered by the Government. This can be a significant financial windfall for the individual for doing the right thing.  

Whistleblowers can also help the government’s enforcement activities. In 2022, whistleblowers who brought qui tam actions under the False Claims Act helped the government recover nearly $2 billion. The act of whistleblowing can have a positive impact on society as a whole. By exposing illegal or unethical activities, whistleblowers can help to create a safer, more transparent and accountable work environment for everyone. This can bring about positive change within the organization and can help to prevent similar activities from happening in the future.

Becoming a whistleblower is a selfless act that can bring about positive change within the organization and promote a culture of integrity and responsibility. Despite the potential risks, the rewards of becoming a whistleblower can be substantial, including financial compensation, and a sense of integrity and satisfaction. Additionally, there are measures in place to protect the rights and safety of whistleblowers, and it is important to seek the advice of a knowledgeable whistleblower attorney before making the decision to expose illegal or unethical activities.

At Brown, LLC, our experienced whistleblower attorneys are dedicated to helping whistleblowers navigate the legal process and secure the compensation they deserve, so if you have inside information about illegal or unethical activities within your organization, we encourage you to contact our whistleblower law firm for a free confidential consultation.