Most employers and their businesses are honest and upstanding. However, there are certainly some that are not. Employees who are conflicted as to whether or not they should report company wrongdoings in fear of retaliation need not worry. Wisconsin has various laws that protect employees who report fraudulent or otherwise illegal activities in the workplace. These are commonly known as whistleblower laws. Whistleblower protection laws are designed to prevent employers from retaliating against employees who report fraud and misconduct. These laws are applicable to private and public employees alike.
The federal government also has whistleblower protections in place for whistleblowers who believe that their company has defrauded the government. The False Claims Act and Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) Whistleblower Rewards Program provides incentives for insiders to come forward with any information about overbilling on contracts with the government, schemes to avoid taxes, mortgage or Medicare fraud, along with many other illegal acts that cause financial loss to state or federal governmental agencies. These rules provide cash rewards between 10 and 30% of the money that the government ultimately recovers, which often amounts to more than $1 million. The cash reward percentage depends on whether or not the whistleblower was complicit in the scheme, how significant the information provided was, how much the whistleblower assisted in the investigation or prosecution of the litigation, and how quickly the fraud was reported.
Here are some examples of somewhat recent, high profile whistleblower cases:
Quest Diagnostic, a large medical lab company paid $302 million as a settlement for a faulty product. One of its subsidiaries, Nichols Institute Diagnostics Inc., covered up evidence that the results of their faulty blood test kits were inaccurate. The whistleblower in that case was awarded 18% of the $253 million settlement.
Northrop Grumman, an aerospace and defense technology company was accused of selling faulty electronic equipment to United States military satellites. The whistleblower received 15% of the $48.7 million settlement.
Duke University agreed to pay the Department of Justice $112.5 million for having submitted falsified data in over 30 grant applications. The whistle blower received $33.75 million from the settlement.
If you suspect or know first-hand that there is unethical and/or fraudulent activity happening in your company, it is important to know that the law can protect you. Coming forward can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Our attorneys at Levine Lyon & Eisberner LLC will assist you in the complicated process of blowing the whistle on wrongdoings. Call us now at 1-888-367-8198 for a free consultation.