Whistleblowers play a critical role in the American legal system. They’re often the first to report unethical or illegal activities at major corporations or within sprawling government bureaucracies. In many cases, the information they provide forms the basis of civil or criminal actions that taint their employers’ reputations for years or decades. Sadly, whistleblowers’ bravery often makes them a target for professional and personal retribution — even, at times, for physical violence.
What is a whistleblower?
Robbins Geller is committed to the rights and welfare of corporate and government whistleblowers. But what exactly is a whistleblower?
According to Robbins Geller, “A whistleblower is an individual who discloses original information to the public or those in authority about illegal and/or unethical activities in a government department or private organization.” Though few are featured in news reports or gain notoriety outside of closed professional circles, hundreds of whistleblowers come forward each year in the United States alone.
Whistleblowers often reveal the details of suspected but hitherto unproven cases of fraud, embezzlement and other financial crimes within public and private organizations. Their revelations can be explosive. Whistleblowers were responsible for the first reports of criminal activity at both Enron and WorldCom — reports that would grow into the two largest financial scandals of the early 2000s.
Robbins Geller’s whistleblower practice group works with concerned employees and observers in a variety of industries. The most common types of criminal or unethical activity uncovered by its clients include:
- Doctors and hospital groups overbilling Medicare or private insurance (insurance fraud)
- Doctors performing unnecessary procedures or services (also insurance fraud)
- Tax fraud
- Securities fraud
- Medical professionals issuing off-label prescriptions
- Defense contractor fraud
What makes Robbins Geller’s whistleblower services different
Robbins Geller’s whistleblower services offer comprehensive legal representation and access to the full measure of the federal government’s whistleblowing protections. Whistleblowers who approach Robbins Geller with sensitive information enjoy such advantages as:
- Protection from retaliation by employers. Whistleblowers’ employers, whether private firms or government agencies, are prohibited by federal law from engaging in any retaliatory action against individuals alleging criminal or unethical activity on their part. Such action includes harassment, threats, demotions, withholding of salary or bonuses, termination of employment and physical violence.
- Entitlement to a substantial portion of an eventual settlement or judgment. After a spate of high-profile cases involving financial and insurance fraud, the federal government passed a series of laws (notably the Dodd-Frank Act) that boosted financial incentives for whistleblowers. Under the terms of the Dodd-Frank Act, any whistleblower who voluntarily provides the Securities and Exchange Commission or the Commodities and Futures Trading Commission with information that results in a recovery of more than $1 million is entitled to anywhere between 10% and 30% of the awarded amount. Though some caveats and restrictions apply, this is clearly a significant incentive.
- Protections and financial incentives under the IRS Whistleblower Program. Under the terms of the IRS Whistleblower Program, anyone who voluntarily provides information about tax fraud leading to the recovery of more than $2 million — or involving an individual whose annual income exceeds $200,000 — is entitled to between 15% and 30% of the recovered amount.
It’s nice to imagine a world in which whistleblowers — and thus whistleblower protections — weren’t necessary. But that rosy future is some ways off. For now, the brave souls who put their professional and personal lives on the line to arrest corruption and malfeasance deserve all the support they can get. Robbins Geller is simply doing what it can to level the playing field.