Imagine working in an office and you notice a blatant safety violation or you're reviewing the accounting books and suspect your boss is defrauding the government. Common sense dictates you should report the violation, but so many workers in various professions like the pharmaceutical industry and medical fields fail to do so out of fear of being labeled a "whistle blower" or a "snitch."
As Virginia personal injury lawyers we know this culture of "keep quiet and go about your business" is irresponsible and dangerous. This willful negligence puts co-workers and everyday citizens at risk of suffering injuries or side effects (if there's a violation with a drug) and fraud costs the U.S. government billions of dollars.
For example, Medicare reportedly loses between 40 to 60 billion dollars every year due to fraud, according to the Washington Examiner. This is why the whistleblower protections in the False Claims Act are so important. They provide a level of security and "back-up" to a concerned worker or citizen who wants to report a workplace safety issue and/or scheme to defraud the government of funds. Many states have their own version of the False Claims Act. Click here to read the Virginia (VA) statute for whistleblower protections.
There is legal principle known as the "writ of qui tam." This is a fancy term meaning that an individual with information about fraud or violation against the government (i.e. blowing the whistle) can be awarded a percentage of the damages recovered if a lawsuit is filed and successfully prosecuted against the schemers. This can amount to as much as 30 percent of the settlement, which may be quite a sum given the scale of the scams that are discovered in these types of cases. This provides a financial motivation for any and all citizens to report swindlers when they discover their illegal plans.
But even if there wasn't a monetary motivator, the overarching purpose of whistleblower protections and qui tam claims is to look out for your fellow citizens. If Medicare continues to lose billions of dollars every year, the cost is passed onto taxpayers. If you work for a drug company and know they forged or manipulated tests, thousands of people could suffer adverse side effects, even someone you know like a relative or close friend. You should view it as a public duty to report the violation or fraudulent action than to keep quiet and be complicit in a safety hazard or illegal act.