What Is a Whistleblower?

Whistleblowers are an important weapon in the government’s ongoing battle against the gross waste of government resources. The whistleblower attorneys at Cutter Law P.C have the experience to help whistleblowers navigate the often complex process while protecting their rights. 

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     The federal government has recovered over $70 billion of stolen funds, and $5.6 billion in 2021 alone, thanks to the willingness of whistleblowers to come forward.

    The decision to expose wrongdoing is never easy. The experienced whistleblower attorneys at Cutter Law, P.C., can help whistleblowers navigate the process and protect their interests.

    What does whistleblowing mean?

    A whistleblower is an individual who reports wrongdoing to law enforcement or other authorities and has sufficient evidence. Whistleblowers are commonly employed by the wrongdoer.

    Two Types of Whistleblowing

    The two primary types of whistleblowing are internal and external.

    Internal whistleblowing occurs when the misconduct is reported to authorities within the company, such as the human resources department or the CEO. Many whistleblowers initially blow the whistle internally only to find that no action is taken to correct the misconduct.

    External whistleblowing occurs when the conduct is reported to law enforcement or such government agencies as the following:

    • The Inspector General
    • The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
    • Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA
    • The United States Office of Special Counsel (OSC)
    • The United States Congress

    Verdicts and Settlements

    At Cutter Law P.C., we have a long record of successfully representing whistleblowers in multiple industries. Below is a representative snapshot of the successful cases our law firm has handled:

    $23.5 Million

    Qui tam settlement for government fraud claims brought against Medtronic Inc., one of the world’s largest medical device manufacturers, on behalf of one of four whistleblowers.

    $4.7 Million

    Brooks Cutter and John Parker obtained a $4.7 million settlement of government fraud claims that our whistleblower client shared in

    $ 2.4 Million

    Verdict in an intentional medical misconduct case

    $ $4.7 Million

    Settlement in a government fraud claim

    Whistleblower Laws

    Whistleblower laws are designed to provide guidance, protection, and incentives for whistleblowers to come forward.

    False Claims Laws

    The Federal False Claims Act (FCA) makes it illegal for government agencies to falsely or fraudulently file claims for federal funds or property. The act imposes fines of up to triple the government’s damages plus treble damages linked to inflation. False Medicare claims by healthcare providers are one of the most common violations of this act.

    The act allows private individuals to file a lawsuit on behalf of the government, known as qui tam lawsuits. In qui tam lawsuits, whistleblowers are called relators. The government can intervene in these cases or allow the individual to pursue the case on its behalf.

    The California False Claims Act is similar to the Federal FCA, except its provisions apply to false claims made for state funds. It is enforced by the state attorney general and the False Claims Unit. The California FCA also allows private citizens to file qui tam lawsuits under seal on behalf of the state.

    Whistleblower Protection Laws

    The Whistleblower Protection Act, enforced by the Department of Labor, protects federal employees and contractors by prohibiting employers from retaliating against whistleblowers.

    Any whistleblower report provided to an appropriate internal or external authority is a protected disclosure under the act. Retaliation can include the following: 

    • Termination
    • Unfavorable performance reviews
    • Failures to promote
    • Demotions
    • Unfavorable work schedules
    • Unwanted job transfers
    • Blacklisting
    • Any adverse action

    The state of California similarly protects whistleblowers against reprisal under California Labor Codes and the California Whistleblower Protection Act.

    Sarbanes-Oxley Act

    The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX) increased auditing and reporting requirements for publicly traded companies and added protection for corporate whistleblowers. OSHA receives retaliation complaints that violate securities laws under SOX.

    Dodd-Frank

    Section 922 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 implemented a whistleblower program specific to banks, investment firms, and other financial services providers. Violations are reported to the SEC and include such activities as the below:

    • Ponzi schemes
    • Theft
    • Mismanagement of funds
    • Insider trading
    • Money laundering
    • Any fraudulent conduct

    Whistleblowers need not be employees.

    OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program

    In addition to SOX, OSHA enforces whistleblower protection laws included in over 20 statutes, such as the following:

    • Clean Air Act
    • Toxic Substances Control Act
    • Consumer Financial Protection Act
    • Modernization Act
    • Solid Waste Disposal Act

    The Personal Toll of Whistleblowing

    Despite state and federal laws against it, retaliation against whistleblowers still occurs. One study revealed that 74 percent of whistleblowers are terminated, and those remaining experience other forms of retaliation, including poor performance evaluations, harassment, and demotions.

    Qui tam lawsuits can take years to resolve, and whistleblowers have faced financial ruin, ostracization by coworkers, and emotional duress. Blowing the whistle requires courage and fortitude.

    Testimonials

    Daniel
    Daniel
    This is a high quality Law firm. This firm is top of the line and present information clearly and concisely.
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    This is a family owned business and extremely friendly. The whole crew is very profession and reputable. They are highly knowledgeable in their trade and bring a top level of expertise to any inquiry. I would highly recommend this Law firm. These are wonderful people and they will help you get the justice you deserve.
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    Bryan H.
    My experience with Cutter Law has been extremely positive.
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    The staff are professional, responsive, and passionate about their clients. Highly recommend this law firm.
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    Michael D.
    Cutter Law is the one to call for sound legal advise and the firm to rely upon for solid support.
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    There's this thing about lawyers ... they often forget the first word in their title, Counselor at Law. Well, Margo Cutter practices the full spectrum of her profession. Though she has not represented me in litigation, I have benefited from her kind support and sound counsel regarding a traumatic injury I sustained due the negligence of others and the subsequent unbearable pursuit for justice. Thank you, Margo.
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    I had the pleasure of working with the Cutter Law P.C firm recently and it was a very positive experience.
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    How does Cutter Law, P.C., help whistleblowers?

    The attorneys at Cutter Law understand the challenges whistleblowers face. Whistleblowers are heroes who place their own interests on the line for the benefit of the public interest. Our observations have been that most whistleblowers do not blow the whistle for compensation. It is about doing what is right, whatever the cost.

    Cutter Law, P.C., provides vigorous advocacy and aggressive pursuit of entities that defraud the public. We have won millions on behalf of whistleblowers. Our whistleblower attorneys offer free case evaluations, and we do not charge fees until you recover compensation.

    If you have direct knowledge of wrongdoing, contact us today to schedule your free consultation.

    Whistleblower Frequently Asked Questions

    Recognizing the value of whistleblowers, the federal government and the SEC compensate whistleblowers 10 to 30 percent of the funds recovered as a result of whistleblower disclosures.

    Blowing the whistle is an intentional act of exposing wrongdoing that defrauds the public. Whistleblowing protects public interests.

    Leaking is the act of revealing classified or confidential information to sources who are not entitled to such information. Leaking can be unintentional and is often a violation of laws. Leaking can harm public interests by threatening our nation’s national security.

    The law protects whistleblowers. Leakers are not entitled to legal protection and can be prosecuted.

    Whistleblowing exposes illegal activity that harms the government and taxpayers. The decision to blow the whistle is difficult because some may construe such action as disloyalty. Allowing a company to continue defrauding the public is unethical. In many situations, blowing the whistle is the only ethical choice.

    Employees who discover wrongdoing by corporations or government agencies often struggle with the decision of whether to blow the whistle or look the other way. It is not a simple decision. While doing the right thing seems like a straightforward solution, the consequences of the decision can be significant.

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    401 Watt Avenue Suite 100
    Sacramento, CA 95864
    Phone: 916-290-9400

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