What are my rights as a Whistleblower?
A whistleblower’s identity is typically disclosed to the government as part of his/her disclosure statement. While the case is under seal, the defendant will not know of the whistleblower’s identity. Some whistleblowers may proceed anonymously but it is not a favored practice in the courts.
The False Claims Act (31 U.S.C. § 3730(h)):
- Protects relators from employer retaliation/harassment, including workers who are not technically “employees” under the law, such as independent contractors.
- Prohibits employer retaliation against the relator’s family and friends.
- Provides relief to relators who are “discharged, demoted, suspended, threatened, harassed, or in any other manner discriminated against” because of lawful acts done in whistleblowing – such as job reinstatement (with seniority maintained), 2x back pay (with interest), and compensation for special damages (including litigation costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees).
The Federal Claims Act has been updated and most of these amendments were attempts to provide the whistleblower the most protection possible. Most recently, in 2009, the FCA was amended to clarify that the FCA to expand the provision to include “any employees, contractor of agent” who are discriminated against because of lawful acts done “in furtherance of other efforts to stop 1 or more violations” of the FCA. The amendment removed the requirement that the retaliatory action be taken by the whistleblower’s employee and to protect not only the employee by family members and colleagues of the whistleblower and independent contractors and agents of the employer.