5 Steps To Take as You Prepare To Become a Whistleblower
If you have evidence that someone is breaking the law, stealing from the government, or grossly misusing public funds, you will want to contact an attorney right away. Your lawyer will advise you about the best course of action moving forward.
There are many concerns that need to be addressed when you have witnessed wrongdoing. You have a legal obligation to report the misconduct through proper channels, but it’s important to shield yourself against retribution. Your attorney will take active measures to protect you.
Step 1: Seek Legal Counsel
A whistleblower is someone who discloses information that draws attention to illegal or unethical behavior. In many cases, a whistleblower belongs to the organization where someone is committing an act of malfeasance.
It’s important to maintain confidentiality when contacting a whistleblower lawyer. Do not try to contact an attorney from work or using a company phone. It’s best to either call the lawyer using a secure phone line or contact their office via email. When you find the right attorney, they will advise you on how to maintain confidentiality as you work together.
There are several questions you will want to consider when choosing a Georgia whistleblower attorney:
- Does the firm have experience litigating whistleblower cases?
- Does the firm have the necessary resources to investigate and litigate your case?
- Does the firm have a reputation for honesty and integrity?
- Does the firm have a record of success in whistleblower cases?
- Does the firm have any conflicts of interest that would prevent them from litigating your case?
Step 2: Determining if You Have a Whistleblower Case
Your attorney will review your situation and determine if there is sufficient evidence of misconduct to warrant a whistleblower action and which laws apply. Your options may include the Dodd-Frank Act, the SEC Whistleblower Program, the IRS Whistleblower Program, or the Georgia Whistleblower Protection Act. If the misconduct you are reporting involves federal government procurement, your lawyer may recommend filing a qui tam whistleblower tort under the False Claims Act.
A whistleblower complaint may be your best option if you have direct evidence that someone knowingly committed illegal or unethical behavior. This may include:
- Procurement fraud
- Military contractor fraud
- Medicare or Medicaid fraud
- Violation of a federal law, rule, or regulation
- Gross waste or mismanagement of funds
- Abuse of authority
- Conspiracy to defraud the government
- Illegitimate use of government property
- Substantial and specific danger to public health and safety
- Submitting a fraudulent claim
- Kickbacks or bribery
- Theft of government property
- Using false statements or records to avoid or decrease an obligation to pay
Step 3: Documenting Illicit Behavior
Your whistleblower lawyer will advise you on how to collect and store the information that will support your case. This may include internal documents, receipts, contracts, emails, and other types of communication. You will want to collect data that is thorough and verifiable.
To support your whistleblower claim, you must provide facts that answer the following questions:
- What type of misconduct occurred?
- Who committed the misconduct?
- What rules or laws were broken?
- When and where did the illicit behavior take place?
- Who knew about the illicit behavior?
Step 4: Filing a Complaint
Your attorney will evaluate and organize the information you have provided and file your complaint. For your complaint to be successful, it must be well-argued, well-organized, and contain specific examples of misconduct, spelling out precisely which laws or rules have been violated.
Your lawyer will submit your complaint to the proper government agency and make sure you meet the necessary filing rules and deadlines. They will handle all pretrial negotiations, court proceedings, and appeals.
If your whistleblower tort is successful, you may be eligible for financial incentives that include a percentage of the government’s recovery.
Step 5: Protecting Yourself from Retaliation
Because whistleblowers often file a complaint against their current employer, they may be subject to retaliation. It is illegal for bosses, coworkers, or anyone else to threaten or punish a whistleblower. Your attorney will take legal action to protect you, and this may include filing a lawsuit on your behalf.
To help shield yourself from possible retaliation, try not to give your employer any legitimate reason to discipline you. You will want to continue to perform your job duties, be polite and respectful, show up for work on time, be cooperative, and follow company policy as long as you aren’t asked to do anything unethical or illegal.
Do You Have Information About Serious Misconduct in Georgia?
The experienced trial lawyers at Butler Prather LLP aren’t intimidated by anybody. Our attorneys have successfully litigated cases involving some of the most powerful interests in the country. If you have a serious whistleblower claim, we’re ready to stand by you every step of the way.
Our Georgia firm has won hundreds of millions of dollars for clients in over 30 states, including nine verdicts that exceed $100 million and more than 60 verdicts and settlements of over $10 million.
Call us at (706) 322-1990 to learn more today with a free consultation.