Friday, December 5, 2014

Whistleblower Awards Reduced Further

A whistleblower is anyone that brings awareness to or exposes an organization for any dishonest or illegal practices within said organization. It’s very common for whistleblowers to be involved with these organizations directly; normally having done work for them or having partnered with them at some point in time, the allegations that they’ll use to expose the organization is normally gathered from personal interactions.

Many whistleblowers will be employed by the organizations they are exposing, and will maintain employment throughout the process—often times choosing to stay with the organization (assuming the organization does not fall apart after criminal accusations) for a long period of time after exposure.

Why blow the whistle if you could lose your job?

It’s a personal decision to expose an organization for misconduct. You’ve got to be prepared for the worst, but there’s no harm in hoping for the best. There’s no telling how extensive the charges (if any) placed upon the organization will be. However, part of your decision to expose the organization also includes how you expose them. 

Should you wish to remain anonymous, you can choose to do just that—your employer would be unaware of your involvement in the legal proceedings and, even if said employer discovered that you were the whistleblower, would have a difficult time firing you without breaking multiple federal whistleblower protection laws. Some whistleblowers may even choose to personally terminate their employment—refusing to work for an organization that takes part in illegal practices—and exposing the organization publically, sometimes getting massive media coverage and widespread attention.

The Depreciation of Whistleblowers

The United States has many debts to pay off and has enacted countless programs, bills, laws, and reforms to assist in doing so. Unnecessarily large income deductions claiming to be used towards Social Security (which is predicted to yield greatly reduced benefits for the millions of adults paying towards it today by around 2037) is one example of the U.S.’s strenuous efforts to preserve the economy.

Furthermore, the government has recently proved once again that their methods of economical rehabilitation are all but well thought-out. A budget sequestration enacted in 2013 has continued to reduce the award given to whistleblowers that aid the government in recovering lost finances due to an organization’s fraudulent activities.

In a fictional scenario, a whistleblower exposes his employer for tax evasion. The government investigates and finds tangible proof that the allegations are in fact true. They take action and impose criminal punishments against any and all wrongdoers and recover a certain sum of lost money. This whistleblower played a key role in the recovery of said monetary assets and is therefore entitled (by law) to a certain percentage of same.

The budget sequestration mentioned above is aimed towards reducing that percentage that whistleblowers are entitled to. To be more specific, in FY2014 (the fiscal year that ended on September 30th, 2014), the award reduction was 7.2%. Now, as of October 1st, 2014, in FY2015, that reduction percentage has been raised to 7.3%, further lowering the awards for brave whistleblowers that step up to expose fraud against the government.

Is this a counterproductive sequestration?

In the government’s eyes, this is most likely not a problem. A stranger steps up, exposes a wrongdoer, and assists the government in recovering funds. The government wants to keep as much of those recovered assets as possible, and although .1% more is a decimal amount; every cent counts towards economic stability. However, they may have forgotten that some whistleblowers are hesitant to act, and minimizing their incentive to do so is a poor move.

If anything will entice a whistleblower to step up and report an organization, it’s a good heart, and a financial award. Taking away or reducing the award that these whistleblowers have earned and deserve will in turn reduce the amount of whistleblowers that step up and blow the whistle. The IRS does not seem interested in ending this sequestration, so it’s up to Congress to pass a law and stop it for good.   


For more information on whistleblowers, or for more articles on related topics, visit our website at Curious about what steps you can take to become a whistleblower and expose an organization for fraudulent activity? Contact our experienced qui tam lawyers today for a free consultation and case evaluation. We will strive to ensure your anonymity and will see that you’re awarded plentifully should your inside information lead to monetary recovery.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33756
(727) 451-6900

Practice Area: 
Qui Tam Litigation