Who Can Be a Whistleblower Under Federal or State Law?

California Whistleblower / Qui Tam Lawyers

Anyone who has knowledge of fraudulent activity can bring those facts to the government or to law enforcement, but only certain people will qualify as “whistleblowers” under the Federal False Claims Act or the California Qui Tam law.

  • If you qualify as a whistleblower, you will receive a percentage of the money obtained in a lawsuit, and the law will protect you from retaliation in your job. (Learn more about the rewards, risks and legal protections.)
  • If you do NOT qualify, you can still report the wrongdoing but you are not eligible for financial benefits. Depending on the nature of the activities you report, you may still be protected from unlawful retaliation by your employer.

How a qui tam case is brought to the government’s attention is extremely important. As a whistleblower, you are only protected if you are the first to report new and unique information about fraudulent claims against the government. These claims must be presented in a specialized process, under seal, with copies sent to the U.S. Attorney and others.

What is Meant by New and Unique?

For information to be new and unique it cannot be public knowledge and the government must not know of it already. Here are a few examples:

  • If you heard a news story about a government investigation into illegal marketing of a drug and you had information about it,
    it is unlikely you could qualify as a whistleblower (and get the reward) because the government is already pursuing the case, unless you had new and unique information.
  • If you participate or provide additional information that is used in the case, you may qualify for protection under qui tam law.
  • If you knew of illegal activities and you brought it to the attention of your manager, but your employer concealed the information and refused to act,
    you would qualify for rewards and protections if you were the first person to report it to the government. Likewise, you may be entitled to protection against retaliation. Even if the information is known within the company, by failing to act or make it public, it is still “new” to the government.

How Do You Know if You Are the First?

The government is investigating fraud all the time so how do you know if a private investigation is already underway?

You can’t know, but as your lawyers we can investigate this on your behalf. The Dolan Law Firm will contact the Department of Justice. We will work with government investigators and prosecutors. In the early stages of the case, we can keep your identity confidential so you face no risk.

Am I Still Protected by Whistleblower Laws if the Illegal Activity is Not Against the Government?

You are not protected under the False Claims Act if the fraud you are reporting is not against the government. However other statutes may protect you from retaliation such as Labor Codes that protect you from retaliation for reporting unsafe working conditions and wrongful termination laws which prohibit retaliation. We have handled many wrongful termination cases when an employer retaliated against an employee. We have achieved significant financial awards for clients in employment law cases.

If you know that a company is putting an unsafe product on the market, is violating OSHA regulations and operating an unsafe workplace, or is committing fraud against investors or insurance companies, we will help you bring your case forward.

Contact our San Francisco law office
. All whistleblower cases are handled on a contingency fee basis. You pay no attorney fees until the case has been brought to court and you have received an award.