Note to Whistleblowers

480px-Rubik's_cube.svgIf you’ve thought seriously about speaking out about fraud — investment or securities, Medicare or Medicaid, defense contracting, pharmaceuticals, income tax, bid-rigging and so forth — you’ve probably pondered, and maybe worried, a good deal about your next move. Preparing to blow the whistle on fraud can be emotionally draining and intellectually demanding. You may feel a sense of panic as if you were, say, trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube — from the inside.

Without offering legal advice, this website provides information and outlines principles that have helped some of our clients. We hope it helps other prospective whistleblowers, their friends, families and referring attorneys understand more about how the process works and which lever to pull (or not pull) next.

For whistleblowers, some of the greatest struggles involve relationships. They don’t want to believe that a co-worker or business associate is capable of lying to themselves, patients, customers or the government. Even more, whistleblowers hate it that anyone thinks their ethics are low enough to allow them to wink and get involved or just look the other way. It all gets very complicated.

In a sense, fraud involves emotional abuse of co-workers, family members, patients, vendors or customers. If you’re the kind of person who believes in doing the right thing — and most people are — it can be frustrating and demoralizing to deal daily with people who take the opposite point of view.

Money and career concerns also loom large. How speaking out (or not speaking out) might impact your relationships, bank account and career is a tough question involving lots of variables. Is there a way to resolve the ethical and legal dilemmas that others have created without destroying relationships, seeing your career take a nosedive and getting into financial trouble? What documents and information can you legally get or retain to prove the fraud? Should you just walk in and tell the boss what’s happening? Could a simple call to the corporate ethics hotline do the trick? Maybe. Or maybe not.

Often, by the time a whistleblower decides to call us, others at the workplace — usually supervisors and co-workers — have begun retaliating by reassigning responsibilities or work location, making the work environment less friendly, cutting (or even increasing) work hours, or by outright terminating employment. When this kind of thing is already happening, it’s unlikely that a hotline call or a talk with the supervisor will help. It’s time to think outside of the cube.

A clear strategy would help. But strategies require information. If you find yourself in a situation that may require speaking out, the first thing you should do is write down, in a secure way, everything you know about the situation — who, what, when, and where — and then seek a confidential, objective sounding board. Confidentiality can be a challenge since most people you talk with can be compelled by a court to testify to what you’ve said. As a result, your best bet — predictable but true — is to talk with an attorney as soon as possible. We can offer legal advice only to clients with whom we have a signed representation agreement. However, we are happy to discuss and evaluate the strength of your case with you on a confidential, no-cost, no-obligation basis.

To get the process started you can either call or email us using the contact information to the right or request a Case Evaluation using our Confidential Case Evaluation Request form. Either way, we’ll get back with you as soon as we can.

Meanwhile, it is generally a good idea to keep quiet about your intentions, stay positive by thinking in terms of the value you can add by improving the ethical tone of the organization, and do what you can to tactfully build a supportive network in and outside the organization. It is also wise to keep your eyes and ears open for evidence to support your case and show that you are trying to do the right thing. Emails and text messages can be helpful.

While you are waiting for us to respond, you may want to read the material here at Whistleblower Central on the varieties of whistleblower cases (there are many), the laws that create whistleblower claims (not so many) and the process we follow in preparing claims.