What Is a Whistleblower?

The term may be familiar to most people but they may not understand the definition of a whistleblower. Whistleblowers are an important part of our society and they can be compensated for their claims.

Many of us have heard the term “whistleblower” but are not entirely familiar with its meaning. A Whistleblower Case refers to when an employee exposes illegal or unethical activity at their workplace, either private or public. A whistleblower can bring forth accusations internally within their company or externally by contacting a third party, outside of their place of work. They can reach out to law enforcement, the media or the government regarding the allegations. Whistleblowers are employees who have the courage to report these abuses.

Examples of deceptive practices include “cooking the books,” shareholder fraud, lying on tax returns or the production of potentially dangerous or mislabeled products.

What about possible company retaliation?

A company can’t legally terminate an employee for “blowing the whistle.” Laws exist that disallow specific types of illegal or unethical corporate activities to protect employee whistleblowers. The statute of limitations regarding a whistleblower case differs by state; your attorney can help you determine the best course of action.

As an example, in the mid-2000s, a large pharmaceutical company (AstraZeneca) engaged in a far-reaching effort to market the drug Seroquel. One of the company’s drug salespeople learned of this and became a whistleblower and reported it to the federal government.

In April 2010, the company agreed to $520 million to the U.S. government.

Whistleblowers can be financially rewarded for their actions.

Federal and state whistleblower laws offer very substantial rewards to those brave enough to report abuses. Additionally, federal and state statutes and regulations have been enacted to protect whistleblowers from various forms of retaliation.

John Leader is an attorney in Tucson, Arizona. A graduate of the University of Arizona, he handles whistleblower and Qui Tam claims, as well as personal injury and wrongful death claims.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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