Ashcraft & Gerel’s Tips for Whistleblowers
There’s no way around it—fraud happens. And unfortunately, its exposure is often up to the very people who rely on these monolithic government or corporate structures: contractors, consultants and other employers.
Pitting yourself against an employer may feel like a David versus Goliath situation, but it is sometimes the best course of action to right these serious wrongs. Fortunately, there are laws in place that protect individuals who make the courageous choice to bring fraudulent behavior to light. With the right legal team, that choice can make all the difference.
If you decide to raise concerns about fraud with your employer:
Know that you are protected from retaliation. The False Claims Act and many other whistleblower laws specifically prohibit any action by your employer designed to punish you for speaking up.
Talk to a lawyer before you do. Ashcraft & Gerel provides free, completely confidential consultations to help whistleblowers decide whether and how to proceed.
In order to make absolutely sure that you are protected under the anti-retaliation laws, make sure you use the word “fraud,” and use phrases such as “Medicare or Medicaid fraud” or “government contracting fraud,” as appropriate.
Be as specific as you can be about your concerns. Put them in writing, if you feel comfortable doing so. If not, make notes of any conversations you have within your company about your concerns right after those conversations occur.
Make sure that you keep copies of any documents that show the fraud. Do not take documents that you do not ordinarily have access to in the course of doing your job. Do not take documents beyond what your need to prove the fraud.
Keep copies of all positive reviews and praise you have received for your work in the time period before you complained, to show that you were a valued employee.
If you are fired by your employer after raising concerns about fraud, before you sign any severance agreement or release, talk to an attorney.
Your employer may ask you to release your right to file a whistleblower lawsuit or to tell the government you are concerned about fraud. Do not sign any such agreement without consulting an attorney.
We cannot stress enough the importance of consulting with an attorney. At Ashcraft & Gerel, our qui tam team has supported whistleblowers as they press for transparency under often-extraordinary circumstances. Learn more about our work, and how we can help you, in our whistlebowers practice.