A co-worker falsifies expenditures receipts. A large corporation fails to honor the terms of its contract. Whatever the issue, the person who often brings the problem to light is typically known as a whistleblower. Most often, the issues he or she sheds light on are violations under the False Claims Act. It is possible that many Wisconsin residents have been affected by a recent issue that has come to light in this area.
The term "whistleblower" elicits varying reactions from different people. Some individuals applaud a whistleblower for speaking up about an injustice he or she may have witnessed at an organization. However, others view the person as a betrayer. Either way, this individual legally cannot be punished for uncovering unfavorable information about a company; however, this situation is common nationwide, and when it occurs, the mistreated employee has the right to seek legal recourse by filing a claim against the employer in Wisconsin.
From a young age, people learn that being a "tattletale" is a negative thing. When they get older and witness illegal activity at the job site, they often maintain this mentality for fear of being ridiculed or even fired from the job. However, when a person allows his or her moral convictions to outweigh the reservations he or she feels about speaking up, the person may end up being a whistleblower, and his or her employer may choose to retaliate against this individual. A Wisconsin worker who has been victimized in such a way reserves the right to file a claim against the employer.
When people in positions of authority fail to complete their jobs responsibly, dangerous consequences may follow. Whether it be due to fraudulent activity or negligent behavior, there are many federal, state and city laws meant to encourage whistleblowers to report fraud against the government and protect them from retaliation when they do. The federal False Claims Act allows Wisconsin whistleblowers -- "relators" as the law refers to them -- to file whistleblower actions against federal contractors for fraud against the government.
There are many people who simply want to do the right thing but are afraid to do so in regards to corporate fraud against the government. However, some legislation, including the False Claims Act, allows employees to seek justice for corporate infractions without fear of retaliation. In 2013, over $3.8 billion in funds was reclaimed under the FCA, according to the Department of Justice. Designed to provide protective measures for individuals or companies who report those who defraud governmental programs, the Act is the federal government's primary tool in combatting fraud committed against it. Wisconsin workers can initiate federal government false claims actions and receive protection from retaliation.
The False Claims Act, including its qui tam whistleblower provisions, is a federal law that was enacted by Congress during the Administration of President Abraham Lincoln to address rampant fraud on the Union Army. To protect witnesses of fraud and reward whistleblower action, Congress included qui tam provisions in the False Claims Act. Wisconsin whistleblowers' rights are protected under these laws. Recently, six whistleblowers collected a large settlement for coming forward in a Johnson & Johnson case.
Feeling powerless at work due to threatening behavior from leadership or colleagues is a lonely, vulnerable position. If an employer or colleague has asked an individual to engage in, or overlook, fraudulent or illegal activities, legal action can be taken. Individuals in Wisconsin can seek protection and receive just compensation for any injury suffered for reporting the illegal activity through a "qui tam" lawsuit.
Many Wisconsin employees may feel they are able to bring safety concerns to the attention of their employer without fear of retaliation. However, this is not the case for many employees around the country. One engineer from a northwestern state brought several safety issues to the attention of his employer regarding a project worth billions of dollars. He claims that he suffered retaliation and was even fired from his job directly as a consequence of his being a whistleblower.
Though Wisconsin workers appreciate the protection of the law, their lives and careers can still be damaged by pressure from higher authorities to commit illegal acts. Everyone has a right to speak out against these abuses without fear of punishment, and those who assert it are often justly rewarded. Whistleblowers perform a public service by upholding what is ethical and fair, but in doing so, they also assume great risk. A whistleblower employee in Wisconsin can be protected under various circumstances, no matter the area of litigation.
Fraudulent acts occur every day, and many people are able to commit crimes without consequence. When fraud is suspected, Wisconsin citizens can file a whistleblower claim against a person or business that committed fraud against the U.S. government. Recently, one American whistleblower was sentenced to a yearlong term in federal prison, for not coming to the authorities with knowledge of the fraudulent actions sooner.