A whistle-blower is defined as any individual that brings to light violations or illicit activity performed by an employer or organization. Whistle-blowers across the U.S. and Wisconsin are often subjected to scrutiny and retaliation after bringing their allegations to officials, which may lead the individual or group to seek legal advice. After reporting violations of federal regulations, it is important to know your rights and if you are protected under government whistle-blower laws.
Reports of an employee becoming a whistleblower without suffering adverse consequences have become much more common with the enactment of state and federal laws, such as the Whistleblower Protection Act, to protect them. Occasionally, though, the facts of a given situation can create a confusing set of circumstances in which an individual fired for creating a danger to public health might be a legitimate whistleblower.
“Other people’s money.” The phrase carries a subtle meaning, conveying the impression of some that when – especially in situations when those “other people” are the taxpayers of Wisconsin – it is acceptable to be wasteful or even corrupt in handling that money. The federal government deals with budgets and projects that amount to millions and billions of dollars, after all; given such massive scale, some companies that do business with the government cannot resist the temptation to engage in fiscal carelessness or even chicanery.
Not every claim under the U.S. False Claims Act (FCA) involves an employee accusing his or her employer of illegal practices that defraud the government. Sometimes a contractor can also act in the capacity of a whistle-blower.
When Wisconsin employees witness wrongdoing in their workplace that defrauds the federal government, they may feel powerless to do anything about it. But U.S. law dictates this couldn’t be further from the truth. Whistleblowers in this situation, called qui tam whistleblowers, are protected by a law passed in 1863.
The latest state budget includes a surprise for potential whistle-blowers who would seek to report Medicaid fraud under the auspices of the Wisconsin False Claims for Medical Assistance Act: the act has been repealed.
When you see the company you work for engaging in shady — or downright illegal — practices, it can seem intimidating to report it. The federal government has whistle-blower laws protecting workers who would bring unethical practices to light. In addition, Wisconsin also has its own laws protecting whistle-blowers. Facing punishment from your employer for these kinds of complaint is called retaliation, and it is a violation of law. If your employer retaliated against your whistle-blowing, you can file a claim against them.
As they do every year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released their list of top charges for the previous fiscal year. Between October 2013 and September 2014, nearly 90,000 charges were filed. As it has since fiscal year 2009, retaliation (being punished for being a whistle-blower) was the most common complaint filed, this year making up more than 40 percent of all charges. This is also the most retaliation charges ever filed in one year.
A workplace is expected to be a safe environment, free of corruption in all of its ugly forms. Yet, many people all over the state of Wisconsin work every day in workplaces filled with blackmail, embezzlement, gross waste of funds and other shady business practices. Fearing for their jobs, witnesses often will do and say nothing. It is important to understand, however, that both federal and state laws protect whistle-blowers from losing their jobs.
Qui tam actions are lawsuits filed by employees who believe their employers defrauded the government. Such employees are known as whistle-blowers. Without whistle-blowers, many employers would continue to violate the law without facing consequences. The False Claims Act was created to protect whistle-blowers. The Act also outlines specific requirements a whistle-blower must meet to pursue a qui tam action. For example, the Act states that the whistle-blower must be represented by an attorney. One reason for this requirement is that the process of filing a qui tam action is extremely complicated. The investigation process alone involves numerous steps, including subpoenas for records, interviews of witnesses, and expert consultations.