Human nature being what it is, there are times you might witness unethical, criminal or negligent activities at the company where you work. When this happens, it’s natural for a person with integrity to want to do something about it.
If you see a co-worker harassing someone, you might want to file a complaint. If an employee is filling his briefcase with office supplies and break room goodies, you consider reporting the incident. And if you witness department heads cutting corners that result in unsafe working conditions that might possibly lead to injury or death, you think hard about taking it up with higher management.
But what do you do if the company itself is blatantly ripping off its government client? What if it’s charging for services that it’s not providing? Perhaps the company is selling a product that they know will cause harm to users, yet it refrains from disclosing this information. Perhaps the company is over-billing because it has figured out how to do so without getting caught.
You know it is wrong. You know it should stop. Yet you must think about your family and how you will pay the mortgage if you lose your job for disclosing the information.
The Whistleblower Act
The brainchild of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, the Whistleblower Act protects individuals that report wrongful doings of a company to the government for prosecution. This Congressional Act was created to stop war-time profiteering, but has since been extended to any business that accepts government money for products or services in any field. This also includes medical care.
Employees providing information to the U.S. Attorney about questionable issues are generally given freedom of prosecution from any actions they might have taken concerning the event. Say a clerk is instructed by management to falsify forms, even though he knows the services were not rendered as per contract. He won’t be charged with a crime if he reports the illegal activity.
Whistle blowing employees are also given protection from persecution from their employer for their actions. Under the guidelines, employees cannot be fired for reporting the event to the government.
Additionally, if the whistle blowers attorneys successfully prosecute the company for the event and money is recovered for the government, the whistle blower receives a portion of that recovered money as a reward. This reward will help alleviate any financial hardships the employee may have endured from the case, such as traveling expenses to provide testimony or missed days at work.
While it may well be nerve-wracking to report the actions of your employer to the government, it is an ethical obligation that should be undertaken. Your actions could save lives, prevent a disaster, recover stolen taxpayer money, or curtail waste. You can even save yourself and your neighbors money–all Americans eventually pay for the criminal or negligent activities of companies entrusted with providing goods or services to the government through higher taxes.
When you blow the whistle on dubious practices, you lead by example. Your actions testify to family and friends that everyday people can stand up for what is right. Sometimes people are afraid to do the right thing because they fear repercussions. By standing for justice under the protections granted by the Whistleblower Act, you can live a life of uncompromising courage and integrity, and show people that it is possible to right wrongs without fear of reprisal.
Freelance writer Richard Freeland is pleased to offer this article to those considering blowing the whistle on suspected wrong-doing by their employer. Whistle blowers attorneys Goldberg Kohn will work diligently to protect the rights of everyday Americans seeking to fight fraud against the government.