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Why We Need Whistleblowers

Ralph Nader is often credited with coining the modern term “whistleblower” to refer to an employee who reports illegal, unethical or wrongful conduct at his or her place of employment.   At our firm, we have had the privilege to represent many courageous whistleblowers who have had the integrity to stand up and report fraud and abuse against government programs when no one else at their workplaces would do so.  Here are a few of many reasons our country needs more such whistleblowers:

 1.     Fraud is Everywhere.

Politicians often differ on the amount of money that the government should spend.  But regardless of whether you believe in “big government” or “small government,” we all agree the government should not spend money on fraudulent goods and services.  The government loses billions each year to fraud and abuse against federal spending programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and defense contracting.  This hurts everyone (except for the fraudsters of course).

2.    The Government Can’t Stop the Fraud by Itself.

Unfortunately, government auditors and investigators are often ill-equipped to detect the fraud being committed against them.  Many times, the government has trouble preventing open and obvious frauds — such as delivering tax refunds to people who don’t exist.  Imagine how the government fares when faced with sophisticated corporate criminals bent on stealing and defrauding as much money as possible.   Many times, the government doesn’t even stand a chance.

3.      Big Corporations Can’t be Trusted to Police Themselves.

Corporate America often lobbies against whistleblower laws, claiming that “blue ribbon compliance programs” would do a better job of stopping fraud than offering rewards to whistleblowers.   This is bunk.  If history teaches nothing, it teaches that big corporations will often put profits ahead of everything else.  This has been true ever since the days of the Civil War, when the False Claims Act was enacted to combat fraud and abuse by war contractors against the Union Army.  Like it or not, many (but not all) corporations will put profits ahead of people.   Remember the tobacco executives who testified before Congress, one after another, that there was no evidence that tobacco caused cancer?   At the end of the day, corporations simply cannot be trusted to “police themselves.”

4.    Whistleblowers Possess Key Inside Information.

The best whistleblowers come from inside the company or organization that is committing the fraud.  Whistleblowers provide the type of information that nobody else can provide.   Often, this includes information about how or why the fraud is committed or how it is being concealed. Many times, the whistleblower has complained, over and over, only to be rebuffed by management or victimized by retaliation.

The proof is in the pudding.   Using the False Claims Act, the government recovers billions of dollars annually with information provided by whistleblowers – honest, inside employees with the courage to stand up to what they know is wrong.   If you know about illegal conduct at your workplace, contact one of our lawyers for a free consultation.   You may be eligible to become a whistleblower under the False Claims Act and receive a reward.