Why Whistleblowers Suffer Bad Reputation

There is a lot of misinformation and demonization of whistleblowers in current society. The most important reason for this demonization is that sometimes they do succeed. When a whistleblower comes forward and provides key information about wrongdoing they can recover a great deal of money on behalf of the government, they can stop wrongful practices, and they can improve all many lives.

They also can cost the wrongdoers a lot of money. That is one of the main reasons why whistleblowers suffer bad reputations. If you have important information to disclose or want to learn more about the risks and benefits of whistleblowing, reach out to an experienced attorney to learn how to best proceed.

Important Role in Fraud Investigations

Whatever the specific kind of public fraud is being investigated, usually a whistleblower has key information to bring the case. That is why whistleblowers remain crucial to the American justice system.

Unfortunately reporting on very serious matters against very powerful private interests can create a backlash. Therefore, whistleblowers need to know their rights and need to work with counsel to be sure they are proceeding carefully. Powerful defendants do not enjoy paying for their fraudulent activity. We have to remember that without whistleblowers they may never have to pay for the fraud they commit.

Organizations Working to Weaken Legal Protections

Whistleblowers are heroes, but it is important to know that there are organizations that appear to be doing what they can to discredit the practice of blowing the whistle and weaken the laws that protect whistleblowers.

They tend to use words like “disgruntled employee” or “leak.” They refer to the False Claims Act right to file a case as the “so-called qui tam provisions,” an attempt to make that right sound sinister. The first attacks made against False Claims Whistleblowers are usually that they are greedy. In a capitalist system, private enterprise is supposed to go out and maximize value and, within the rules, is supposed to make money.  The framers of the False Claims Act wanted to incentivize reporting fraud. The Government has collected billions as a result and whistleblowers earn their reward, they don’t cheat to get paid.

Role of the False Claims Act

It is somewhat odd that a contractor who commits fraud against the government can then try to point at a whistleblower as being greedy. When Congress first created The False Claims Act the original idea was that it should provide incentives for whistleblowers to come forward and report fraud committed against the government. Honest contractors are of course allowed a profit. Fraudulent contractors calling others greedy, when they undercut honest business takes a lot of nerve.

Legal Incentives

Despite the incentives built into the law, most whistleblowers come forward because they see wrong-doing and want to stop it. They often report to the government after they have been the subject of retaliation, and as a result of the retaliation feel that they must try and prevent illegal activity.

Even on the occasion that a whistleblower comes forward as a result of the financial incentives, that was the design of the law. It was meant to provide an incentive for whistleblowers to report fraud. It should not be controversial to reward telling the truth.

Motivational Incentives

Nobody questions that private companies have an incentive to make money. Usually, it made be thought of as a good thing. Most companies who make money honorably from the government have an incentive to provide a good product or service at a competitive price and make a healthy profit.

Some get into the business of cheating and defrauding the government and that is a different matter. Yet, somehow, a whistleblower has an incentive to come forward, an incentive to do the right thing, is depicted in a different light.

Often, the reason why whistleblowers suffer a bad reputation is that they are the key reason for uncovering significant fraud and seeing that those who are guilty are held accountable for their actions. Whistleblowers are the key factors, the key people with the information that has brought the ability to the government to regulate securities fraud, Medicare, Medicaid fraud, government contracting fraud, tax fraud and the people they catch simply are not happy about that.

Risk of Providing Classified Information

There are other reasons, as well. Certainly, some whistleblowers have engaged in the activity of providing classified information and that has its own particular risks. It should be noted that whistleblowers providing information on security matters take great risks for themselves and have very little protection under the law, and currently have no few if any ways to report such information.

Importance of Legal Protections

Victory has many parents. When a case is successful, it is important to remember that it was most likely due to a brave whistleblower taking a strong stand, enabling the necessary information to come to light. Thus, it is essential to fight for the laws that promote whistleblowers and for the idea that blowing the whistle is a good thing.

Not every country has the legal system or the legislation that the United States does that makes it possible for whistleblowers to come forward, report fraud against the government, report wrongdoing, report tax fraud, or report securities fraud.

We not only have laws that provide rewards to whistleblowers but now laws that provide whistleblowers to fight retaliation. The False Claims Act, the SEC whistleblower law and now even the IRS whistleblower law all include anti-retaliation provisions. Call a lawyer to discuss your rights before you blow the whistle and if you have any questions about why whistleblowers suffer a bad reputation.