Can Whistleblowers Remain Anonymous?
Whistleblowers have been around a long time. They provide a unique service to society by bringing unscrupulous behavior to public awareness. Governments, both state and federal, recognize the value of whistleblowers and offer a variety of programs through numerous agencies which offer financial incentives to whistleblowers to come forward. Despite the potential financial rewards, an employee whistleblower may still be hesitant to come forward due to fear of retribution from their current employer. Are there whistleblower protection laws to protect the whistleblower from retaliation? Can whistleblowers remain anonymous?
Employee Whistleblower Protection
There are laws on the books, both state and federal, intended to provide employee whistleblower protection. These whistleblower protection laws are intended to protect whistleblowers from retaliation for reporting fraud and other types of illegal activity. On the federal level, the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 (updated and revised in 2012) protects federal employees from retaliation for reporting government waste, fraud, and other illegal activities. While these laws provide much protection to the whistleblower against retaliation, the law does not provide for the whistleblower to remain anonymous. As noted, there are state laws which address employee whistleblower protection, but whistleblower anonymity is not usually a part of those protections.
Protection for an Employee Whistleblower
Employee whistleblower protections are captured in both federal and state laws. State laws vary significantly but generally bar discrimination or retaliation against whistleblowers. Despite these legal protections, many potential whistleblowers are still understandably reluctant to come forward with their information due to fears of subtle retaliation that can adversely affect their livelihood. If a whistleblower could remain anonymous, such risks would not be relevant.
Whistleblower Protection Laws
Under the federal whistleblower law known as The False Claims Act, individuals can file actions on behalf of the government to recover money paid by the government due to alleged fraud or impropriety. These are referred to as qui tam actions. Whistleblowers who initiate these actions (referred to as “relators” under the law) have sometimes tried to remain anonymous but have usually not been successful. While the law does not favor anonymity in such proceedings, attorneys experienced in this area of practice have many procedural tools that can assist in protecting the whistleblower’s identity to great extent for some period of time. If the whistleblower’s case under The False Claims Act is successful, the whistleblower can receive from 15 percent to 30 percent of the amount recovered for the government.
How Whistleblowers are Protected
How whistleblowers are protected from retaliation is of utmost concern to anyone aware of potentially illegal activity in a corporate or government setting looking to report the activity. Extensive laws now exist to provide employee whistleblower protection. If you are aware of such misconduct or illegal activity, knowing how, when, and what to report are essential to protecting your identity and getting the whistleblower rewards you deserve.
Hire an Experienced Firm
Based in Atlanta, Georgia, Evangelista Worley LLC specializes in the areas of reporting fraud and whistleblowing. In addition to decades of combined experience dealing in these areas, our staff also has extensive experience with international law and contingency litigation law. Let our team of legal experts review the plethora of factors that need to be reviewed to ensure your rights are protected and whistleblower rewards are obtained under the applicable statutes. We don’t shy away from complex cases – they’re our specialty. Call us at (404) 205-8400 today for a free consultation.