The world is beginning to learn about the policies and lack of protection of whistleblowers. A whistleblower is someone who shared confidential governmental information, often in an attempt to protect the citizens of the country they are whistleblowing from. Over the last few years, there have been high media cases involving whistleblowers and questionable government practices. Most whistleblowing cases are not this high profile, but many face the same whistleblower policy problems and lack of protection.
The law can get very tricky, especially when it comes to a government and whistleblower policy. Those who are provided with information that could harm the everyday resident of the country may feel obligated to share this information with the public. However, their government contracts often prohibit doing this. This often results in a tricky ethical and legal dilemma.
The decision may be further complicated by the fact that someone who shares confidential government information, a whistleblower, can be legally charged. They can be severely fined, forced to spend time in prison, and be excluded from any future high position jobs. In a sense, their lives can be ruined by the government. For these reasons, many whistleblower cases become high profile, with many government officials disagreeing on what the person deserves as a punishment.
Although the point of the whistleblower policy is to protect the country by protecting their confidential information, the problem comes when the government is doing illegal things. Should a whistleblower be punished because they did not inform others of the illegal acts their government was doing? For example, under the False Claims Act, those who knowingly submit, or cause another person to submit, false claims for payment of government funds are liable for up to three times the government?s damages plus civil penalties of $5,500 to $11,000 for each false claim.
Most whistleblowers are attempting to shed some truth to the countries policies and actions. They may be unsure how to inform others of illegal activity, and they may be worried about whistleblower retaliation. Approximately 22% of those who reported wrongdoing said they experienced retaliation because of their actions. Even more whistleblowers were likely to experience retaliation, but did not want to further exacerbate their situation, by sharing stories of retaliation.
The whistleblower policy is difficult to understand. A person who is being charged with whistleblowing will likely need an attorney who is qualified and specializes in whistleblowing cases. A whistleblower attorney is often someone who knows the ins and outs of the legal system, and has the ability to argue for why their client chose to share confidential information. In most cases, it is for the sake of the country.
A whistleblower attorney can also offer whistleblower protection. People who are classified as whistleblowers may experience backlash from both government officials and residents of the country. Many may feel like they betrayed their country and can cause harm. In many cases, whistleblower retaliation settlements are the result of unfair harm and retaliation against the whistleblower. The whistleblower may even be eligible for funds for their damages. People who sue under the False Claims Act are called relators or whistleblowers and are eligible for 15 to 30% of the amount recovered.
The point of the whistleblower policy is to protect the government. The country does not want its employees, who have access to multiple confidential information sources to have the ability to share this information with others. This could be extremely dangerous to the safety of the country. However, the whistleblowing policy can actually harm the individual, even when they are doing what they feel is right. A whistleblower who experience retaliation from whistleblowing should consult with an attorney who is specialized in this specific area of the law.