Many question the worth of being a whistleblower. “Is it worth the time and effort?” “Will I lose my job?” “What good will it bring me?” Overall, “is it worth it?” Being a whistleblower is a tedious process—cases can take years, to hire lawyers you need to have money, and many people seem to think that it may even make you lose your job. Let’s go through each of these pieces to the whistleblowing process: time, money, and risk.
Whistleblowing is a time commitment. It requires gathering first-hand specific information about fraudulent activity, working with lawyers, spending time in negotiations or court, etc. Many qui tam cases take years to settle.
Whistleblowing also requires money as hiring lawyers is necessary. However, the money used to pay lawyers may be reimbursed to you after winning a case. In our recent article on quitamteam.com, “Jury: College & Faculty Member Committed Fraud,” the whistleblower in the case, Dr. Daniel Feldman, is likely to be reimbursed. Dr. Feldman filed the case in 2003, and it has taken 7 years for the final ruling to be issued. Dr. Feldman’s fees and costs to his lawyers cost several hundred thousand dollars, which may be reimbursed to him in full!
Many think whistleblowing is a risky business. But, contrary to popular belief, the risks are not very high as whistleblowers are protected by law. For instance, many people think that whistleblowing involves the risk of losing your job, but under the False Claims Act (FCA), the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), and other laws that protect whistleblowers, whistleblowers cannot be fired for whistleblowing. According to the Department of Labor website, “Whistleblowers may not be transferred, denied a raise, have their hours reduced, or be fired or punished in any other way because they have exercised any right afforded to them under one of the laws that protect whistleblowers.” So while whistleblowing may seem risky, the law is on the whistleblower’s side to protect him/her from any punishment as a result of whistleblowing.
So whistleblowing takes time, can take money, but is not very risky. But still “why do it?” “Is it worth it?” “What good will it bring you?” The reward of being a whistleblower is not only self-satisfaction, but a heavy pay-off if you win the case. In order to receive a reward for being a whistleblower, the government must recover at least $1 million in the case. Whistleblowers receive a mandatory minimum of 10 percent, to a maximum of 30 percent of what is recovered. Therefore, if whistleblowers are awarded in cases recovering $1 million or more, a whistleblower will make between $100,000 and $300,000 at least. For larger cases, a whistleblower must still receive at least 10 percent of the claim, and can make more than $100,000 to $300,000. In the HCA case in 2003, the numerous whistleblowers received $151,591,500. The largest Healthcare fraud settlement in U.S. history, against Pfizer Inc., paid six whistleblowers more than $102 million. So while whistleblowing may take time, it is worth it. Overall, you can be reimbursed for payments to attorneys, you will not incur much risk, and you will make at least $100,000 if your case wins.
Dr. Feldman sums up why it’s worth being a whistleblower. He stated that, “being a whistleblower is not something you undertake without tremendous sacrifice,” because of the time and risk involved. However, he agreed that “In the end, prevailing certainty feels great and worth the cost to do the right thing” (Source: Salmanson Goldshaw).
Henning, Peter J. “Come Blow Your Horn for the S.E.C.” The New York Times DealBook Blog. 26 July 2010. http://dealbook.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/26/come-blow-your-horn-to-the-s-e-c/.
Montopoli, Brian. “Obama Signs Sweeping Financial Reform Into Law.” CBSNews. 21 July 2010. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20011201-503544.html Salmanson Goldshaw, P.C. as per PR Newswire. PR Newswire. “Federal Jury Finds Cornell University’s Medical College Committed Fraud.” 29 July 2010. http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/federal-jury-finds-cornell-universitys-medical-college-committed-fraud-99538899.html.
Savage, David. “Financial reform law includes big cash incentives for whistle-blowers.” Los Angeles Times. 23 July 2010.http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-reform-whistleblower-20100723,0,6099636.story.
United States Department of Health & Human Services. News Release. “Justice Department Announces Largest Health Care Fraud Settlement in its History.” 2 September 2009. http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2009pres/09/20090902a.html.
United States Department of Justice. “Largest Health Care Fraud Case In U.S. History Settled HCA Investigation News Record Total of $1.7 Billion.” 26 June 2003. http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2003/June/03_civ_386.htm.
United States Department of Labor. “Whistleblower Protections.” http://www.dol.gov/compliance/laws/comp-whistleblower.htm.
This article is brought to you by the QTT, the epicenter for whistleblowers and people interested in the False Claims Act, Qui Tam Provisions, and Medicare and Medicaid fraud. To discuss a potential case, please call Eric Young at 1 (800) 590-4116.