Did you know that whistleblowing began in the US when Benjamin Franklin leaked letters Hutchinson had written to Thomas Whately, and ultimately led to the American Revolution? Back then it was just as important as it is today, to take a stand against dishonesty and corruption.
If you know of fraud or corruption in your workplace, whether a hospital, corporate office, or state or federal agency, as a tax-paying citizen you can protect public funds from misuse by reporting it.
Typically, you will begin the process by making a complaint, either electronically, or by fax or mail, on one of several sites set up for this purpose. But before you go ahead and complete a whistleblower form, this is what you should know about your rights and the best steps to take for a successful case outcome.
In the meantime, for more information about how you as a whistleblower can be protected and rewarded, you can download our Essential Guidance On Qui Tam and Whistleblower Lawsuits. This helpful guide includes key terms, common types of Medicaid and Medicare fraud, negative consequences for whistleblowers, and a fraud checklist: if you suspect fraud, what do you do next?
1. Hire a Law firm That’s Experienced in False Claims Act Cases
Your first step, before going ahead and filling out your whistleblower form, should be to hire a firm with experience in qui tam lawsuits. In a qui tam lawsuit you are not representing yourself; you are acting on behalf of the United States Government and, since a government entity can’t represent itself without an attorney, you must be represented by a law firm.
A reputable attorney will have both the experience and the resources to navigate the complexities of litigating qui tam cases and bring yours to a successful conclusion. Filing an FCA complaint is never as simple as filling out a whistleblower form. In fact, cases can take years to wrap up and your qui tam attorney will understand the stresses experienced by whistleblower clients.
2. Make Sure You’re Protected
Before you fill out your whistleblower form, familiarize yourself with the laws that have been established to protect you as a whistleblower from any reprisals that may result from your complaint.
The Whistleblower Protection Act is a US federal law that was created to “strengthen and improve protection for the rights of federal employees, to prevent reprisals, and to help eliminate wrongdoing within the Government”.
Although anyone can report wrongdoing, the level of protection a whistleblower receives depends on whether they’re public or private, to whom the complaint is made, the type of wrongdoing detailed in the complaint, and the law under which the complaint is reported.
One of the most important ways to prepare yourself before proceeding with a whistleblower complaint is to educate yourself, or speak to a reputable whistleblower law firm, about the reprisals likely to result from your complaint and the steps you can take to protect yourself.
3. File a Complaint Quickly
It’s best to get to grips with the requirements of the relevant whistleblower form as soon as possible. You have six years after the date on which the violation took place to make an FCA complaint, or three years after the date when the material facts of a violation were made known to the US official responsible for acting on the FCA violation.
Keep in mind that when it comes to many statutory whistleblower protection laws, there is a short statute of limitations for whistleblower cases. Typically, the statute starts from the time an employee learns of an intended retaliatory action. So, for instances, the statute of limitations begins on the day the employee learns of the intention to fire him; not the last day of his employment. Each state has its own statute of limitations for common law wrongful termination actions. Your qui tam lawyer will be able to advise you about the statute of limitations governing wrongful termination in the state of Mississippi.
4. Find Out Where to File Your Complaint
An important decision that will affect the success of your claim, and one that should be taken before you fill out your whistleblower form, is the program you will make your complaint to—the SEC Whistleblower Program or the IRS Whistleblower Program, for instance—and the jurisdiction in which the claim should be filed.
This decision is not as simple as it sounds. An FCA lawsuit can be filed in any jurisdiction in which any of the defendants “can be found, resides, transacts business, or in which any [false claim] occurred”. This means there could be many districts in which a claim may be filed. Your qui tam attorney will know the venue that is most favorable for pursuing your particular case.
What You Need to Know About Whistleblower Awards
Not only will a law firm be able to help you fill out your whistleblower form, act on your behalf and support you from the moment you make your complaint until the conclusion of your case, they will also ensure that you receive any reward due to you—this can be 25 to 30% of the recovered funds. Find out more by downloading our free information:
Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.