Ten Things Every Whistleblower Should Know | Mann & Elias

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Becoming a whistleblower is rarely ever an easy decision, but you may feel strongly compelled to take this step. You risk your job and reputation to report on criminal violations, fraud, and public safety and environmental threats. Knowing what's ahead is essential. To help you know what to do and what's ahead, the Law Offices of Mann & Elias present ten things whistleblowers should know beforehand.

What to Know About Whistleblowing

1. A Realistic View of Whistleblowers

While whistleblowers seem to receive a negative connotation, especially in the press, there are those who respect you for finding the courage to step up and report the wrongdoings. These include those who enforce the laws and those who have been on the other end of the wrongdoing.

2. Know your Protective Rights Before Whistleblowing

Knowing your rights before whistleblowing can benefit you and help you choose the best way to present your claim. Currently, there are several different state laws, as well as federal laws setting out procedures for whistleblowing cases. Knowing which of these apply in your situation and the protections they afford you can help you determine what you can disclose, how you can disclose it, and to whom.

A few of these whistleblower laws include the Dodd-Frank Act, IRS whistleblower law, and the False Claims Act. Legal protections are also provided for industry-specific whistleblowers such as environmental whistleblowers and food-safety whistleblowers. Be sure to seek advice from a competent employment attorney in Los Angeles to ensure you know all your protective rights fully.

3. Be Aware of Any Recent Changes in the Law

Legislation can change, and new laws find their way into the system. As the importance of whistleblowers becomes more and more recognized by lawmakers, expect to see additional provisions for protection and rewards. Confirm that you are following the more recent and most beneficial laws to your case before proceeding.

4. Stay Within the Boundaries of the Law

While you may have information about wrongdoing, it is important not to break any law to obtain or disclose that information. An example of this is disclosing confidential information, including trade secrets, in violation of the law.

Always stay within the strict boundaries of the law to prevent facing your own criminal prosecution and an attack on your credibility. To keep yourself safe, work with an informant attorney in Los Angeles.

5. Being Right Doesn't Always Win the Case or Protect Your Job

Even with conviction and determination, along with evidence supporting your claim, you are still not guaranteed to win your case. Don't be blindsided because you expect that doing what is right always leads to an easy and just outcome.

Know that there is more to a whistleblower case than what is "right." You will also most likely lose your job in retaliation as well. Locate the laws that protect you the most and use them as a guide for the necessary steps to take. 

6. The Advantage of Remaining Anonymous

Staying anonymous is perhaps the best way to stay protected and keep your job when becoming a whistleblower. There are those whistleblower laws that provide stronger procedures than ever to help protect your identity and can benefit you greatly. At the same time, however, the information you divulge may clearly identify you to certain company officials. Know your rights when this happens also. 

7. Eligibility for Reward

When looking for a reward for your whistleblowing, consult the whistleblower laws for guidance on this issue. Certain ones permit you to receive a monetary reward if there is a successful outcome, and an enforcement action occurs. In addition to federal laws allowing reward, there are state-specific False Claim Acts providing rewards to whistleblowers as well as protection.

8. Be Aware of Timelines

Regardless of how strong your case may be or how confident you are in it, if you're not aware of important legal timelines and deadlines, none of that will matter. Every whistleblower law has what's known as a statute of limitations, or a maximum amount of time you have to initiate legal proceedings. To continue through the entire preparation process of your case only to delay and file past the deadline would be devastating.

In addition to allowable rewards, certain laws provide for further incentives for those who are the first to file a claim, so stay diligent and timely on all filings.

To ensure you don't miss these important timelines, seek legal representation and stay ahead of any legal deadlines.

9. Non-U.S. Citizens Can Be Whistleblowers

With the multitude of multinational corporations existing today, whistleblowers do not have to be U.S. Citizens. Foreign employees are allowed to retrieve rewards as well as U.S. Citizens. The strongest whistleblower laws, such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the False Claims Act, apply transnationally.

10. Winning is Possible

In the beginning, it may all seem overwhelming. Know, however, that there is a strong chance of winning. Taking the time to know the laws surrounding whistleblowers and taking the necessary steps to stay within those laws can take you a long way towards a positive outcome. Seeking legal representation early on in your case can help with all of this, giving you the best chance to win. Successful prosecutions abound these days, from Medicare fraud to government contracting. As whistleblowing becomes more common, so too do the wins.

While becoming a whistleblower can be scary, if your first concern is being retaliated against by your employer, talk with a specialized lawyer before going forward with your claim.

No one takes the decision to become a whistleblower lightly. Knowing you will be putting your job and income in jeopardy and risk injury to your reputation are no small matters. It takes both a professional and personal toll on you. Being as prepared as you possibly can is your best option to get through these times. Consulting with an attorney can ease the strain and put you on the right track to winning your case.

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