National Perception of Whistleblowers

Below, whistleblower attorney Tony Munter discusses the general perception of whistleblowers and why they are sometimes perceived in a negative way. To learn more about being a whistleblower or to discuss a case, call and schedule a consultation today.

Why Are Whistleblowers Sometimes Perceived in a Negative Way?

The negative reputation of whistleblowers is backlash against the success and forces that a whistleblower acts against. A successful whistleblower is usually blowing a whistle against something big. With that said, it’s not easy to blow the whistle against something big and big forces fight back and they don’t always do so fairly.

For example, there have been a few successful False Claims Act cases where whistleblowers have gotten a lot of money and so there’s been some attempt to  say that the whistleblower was lucky or fortunate in some way. However, what people that say this don’t think about is the actual result of the case including how much money the government ended up recovering  and how the unsafe business practices stopped as a result of that whistleblower.

To get to the point of getting a settlement requires a lot of time and debate. Additionally, it is ultimately the government which takes the information and prosecutes the case. The government even takes credit for prosecuting the case despite the fact that the whistleblower is often the one who pushed the case forward. For this reason being a whistleblower is difficult as you’re fighting something large and costing these large companies a lot of money in some cases. These targets then don’t like this and that is often where the bad perception of whistleblowers comes from.

Focus on the Positive Impact of Whistleblower Cases

Whenever there is a successful False Claims Act (pdf) or whistleblower case it is important for people to look at what it was the whistleblower was reporting and why it was a successful case.

Filing a case under the False Claims Act allows you to show extremely bad practices that some companies and individuals partake in. To file a claim it has to be beyond negligence or just didn’t do the right thing. It has to be extremely bad behavior for the government to decide to prosecute and be successful in obtaining an money. Without whistleblowers the participation in that type of fraud or activity would not stop costing taxpayers money and in some cases, such as in some healthcare fraud cases, hurting public safety.

It is incumbent upon the whistleblower attorney to make that points about other people’s cases, because often that fact tends to get lost in the shuffle of what the settlement was and how much money might have been involved. However the driving issue remains that there were underlying practices that were brought to light by the whistleblower and without the whistleblower these practices would have continued.