Whistleblowing protections are cut and dry. If you see something illegal occurring and you report it to any type of authority – whether it’s to local law enforcement or a federal anti-fraud organization – and you are threatened, reprimanded, fired or punished in any way by your employer as a result, then you have been wronged, and are eligible to file suit against the offending party.
Protections exist for whistleblowers because, were they not in place, those who witness or are aware of criminal behavior would have no incentive to report these actions, and would have no protection from retaliation against them if they chose to do the right thing anyways.
Any individual can blow the whistle on any type of illegal behavior, whether it’s on a massive scale or a micro scale. No matter how big the crime, or the number of victims, the same protections apply.
The United States’ biggest whistleblowing protection agencies are housed within the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC). The IRS provides protection for those who blow the whistle on crimes involving tax fraud, while the SEC protects whistleblowers who report acts of fraudulent securities practices, such as insider stock trading and malicious stock practices.
Not only is it the right thing to do…
Providing information that leads to a successful investigation and, in most cases, criminals winding up in custody, is not only the right thing to do morally – it can also be incredibly lucrative for the whistleblower.
Since 2007, the IRS Whistleblower Office has helped the IRS collect $3.4 billion in may otherwise have been totally lost revenue due to tax fraud and other illicit tax activity. In turn, the IRS has awarded over $465 million in rewards to whistleblowers who helped them collect this revenue. Similarly, the SEC has awarded over $111 million in whistleblowing rewards since their program began in 2011.
To be rewarded for whistleblowing, you simply have to provide credible, accurate information that aids investigators in rooting out a criminal activity. There are stipulations and conditions for each the IRS and the SEC whistleblowing programs, which you can learn more about HERE and HERE.
Providing protections helps ensure whistleblowers are comfortable reporting illicit actions, but providing monetary awards actually incentivizes whistleblowers to speak up when they have proof of criminal activity.
Know something? You’ll need a good lawyer
Whistleblowers cannot bring down tax cheats or stock market wolves alone. They must work with knowledgeable legal advisors to navigate the process. In fact, the SEC whistleblowing program requires any whistleblower to have an attorney sign with them on their intent form to ensure that the whistleblower acknowledges they understand their whistleblowing procedures.
If you feel as though you have a legitimate whistleblowing case but aren’t totally sure about how to get started, it is imperative that you hire an attorney. A whistleblower shouldn’t be tasked with submitting, managing and following up with the legal details of their claim. Some agencies, like the IRS, may actually begin imposing penalties for submissions that don’t lead to any sanctions against the accused entities, so attention to detail is crucial.
At Altman & Altman LLP, we have over 40 years of experience managing high-profile, high-stakes cases that involve many days’ worth of painstaking analysis and studying. We do not shy away from complex matters, and have the acumen to handle your case with the utmost care and attention.
If you know of any wrongdoing by any person, private or public organization, we can help make your whistleblowing case successful. Call us for a free consultation today at 617-492-3000 or toll-free at 800-481-6199. We are available 24/7.