One common question potential whistleblowers have is whether blowing the whistle could negatively impact their job. When navigating whistleblowing and employment, it may be possible to avoid some of the career pitfalls with care. Of course, reporting fraud is not popular with employers, and careful consideration should be given to the steps in becoming a whistleblower.
The Potential Career Impacts of Blowing the Whistle
In most instances, False Claims Act (pdf) cases are filed under seal, which means nobody will know that the case has been filed for some time. Sometimes even when these cases are unsealed they only become well known when they are litigated or settled. For this reason, whistleblower cases often do not have any impact on employment status
With that said, there are instances where it can have an impact, when the employer is confronted with a huge claim or if they figure out using the process of elimination why the Department of Justice is investigating them. It is usually a good idea for a whistleblower to consider obtaining another job, and in fact the period of time while the case is under seal can provide an extra opportunity to do this.
Employer Knowledge of Whistleblowing
Under the SEC whistleblower and the CFTC whistleblower laws, it’s possible to file anonymously, and those agencies have been very good so far about protecting the identity of whistleblowers. Obviously maintaining such anonymity can help an employee retain a job.
Under the False Claims Act, the case generally comes out of seal at some point, and, it’s possible that a whistleblower’s employer may find out about it. They may not, but if it’s a successful settlement, people would be more likely to find out about it, although the whistleblower would have the solace of having won an award.
Discuss Whistleblowing and Employment with an Attorney
There is a substantial body of law that helps a whistleblower to sue if they’re the subject of retaliation. People refer to those kinds of laws as whistleblower protection laws, but it’s important to remember that they don’t work to prevent the retaliation initially. Usually, it provides someone with a basis to sue if they are retaliated against. Being the subject of retaliation is a horrible thing to go through, so before anyone puts themselves in that position, it’s probably smart to talk to a DC lawyer. To learn more about whistleblowers and employment, schedule a consultation today.