Wisconsin whistleblowers who called attention to alleged Medicare fraud may be among those in multiple states who may soon be affected by how or whether US Department of Justice prosecutors can come up with additional evidence to comply with a federal district court judge's order. The judge has stated that she may throw out the whistleblower lawsuit unless the Justice Department can come up with more than expert opinion testimony.
Although Wisconsin provides multiple ways for employees to respond if they believe that they are being discriminated against or retaliated against by their employers in connection with whistleblower activity, there is no single overarching whistleblower statute in this state to cover all circumstances. Instead, Wisconsin law with regard to whistleblower protections is more like a patchwork quilt of multiple statutes that cover specific situations, coupled with certain common-law protections as well as protections under federal law.
Bringing forth information and allegations that condemn an individual or Wisconsin-based business for committing fraud against the federal government takes a great deal of bravery. People who shed light on situations that are of public or federal concern often face backlash and retaliation. This can blemish a person’s professional as personal reputation.
Most of the time when we think of employer retaliation against employees for whistleblowing activity, we think of it in the context of an existing or past employee of the company against which he or she is making the accusation of misconduct. Less commonly thought of is a situation in which a former employee of the company against which he or she brought a whistleblower claim seeks employment at a new company that learns about the candidate's whistleblower history and declines to hire that person.
One of the biggest sources of workplace harassment is targeting of whistle-blowers for retribution, censure or retaliation by the employer. Fortunately, there are federal protections in place to protect people who report unfair or unsafe employment practices.
A Wisconsin construction company owner has been sentenced to two years’ probation for his scheme of paying his workers less than the prevailing wage for roofers working on a housing project in the local area. The man has also been ordered to pay over $659,000 in restitution in addition to the $1 million he has already been ordered to pay to settle a whistleblower lawsuit.
Qui tam is a segment that is clearly outlined under the False Claims Act. This act is one of the best pieces of whistle-blower protection legislation in the United States. The qui tam segment of the act allows the whistle-blower to sue the wrongdoer in the name of the federal government. The government also reserves to right to join the action or intervene. Some states, including Wisconsin, have passed laws that are very similar to qui tam.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued whistle-blower claims under Section 806 of the Corporate Fraud Accountability Act of 2002, which is part of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, also known as the “SOX Act.” This means that there are new, definitive procedures for handling whistle-blower complaints, under the SOX Act.
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.