No business, no matter how powerful, is above the law. Nonetheless, far too many businesses are able to conduct illegal activities by covering up their dealings in layers of fraud and manipulation. When their actions involve defrauding the government, by underpaying taxes, for example, employees who become aware of illegal activity stand to benefit from “blowing the whistle” on the company’s actions.
Employees who have the opportunity to report their company’s illegal dealings are often afraid for their job security. They wonder what the repercussions may be. To create an incentive for whistleblowers, the government has passed laws offering special protections to them, as well as substantial monetary payouts. Whistleblowers stand to receive 15-30% of the damages awarded to the government in a successful case. In the case of major corporations, this can mean tens of millions of dollars.
In addition to financial gain, whistleblowers also receive significant legal protections from possible revenge attempts from their employers. Companies that have been found guilty of illegal actions often attempt to punish known whistleblowers, for example, by campaigning to ruin the whistleblowers’ reputations or attempting to prevent them from finding work. If you are considering reporting your employer’s activities, the government can protect you from their retaliation.
Since laws were first put in place to safeguard the rights of whistleblowers, such as the federal False Claims Act (FCA), the number of whistleblowers has increased dramatically. By removing the barriers to reporting illegal actions to the government, these laws have caused a dramatic increase in the number of fraud cases reported to the government each year.