Whistleblower Attorneys in New York City, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Miami


What is a Whistleblower?

Whistleblowers are brave people who report information about a wrongdoing committed by government, organizations, or businesses. Whistleblowers help to keep our government, unscrupulous employers, and powerful businesses in check by making sure that the public is protected against illegal activity. Illegal activity at the heart of whistleblower protections concerns acts that threaten the public safety, health and our nation’s financial well-being.

Quite often whistleblowers are employees or former employees who have observed dishonest or unlawful activity at their workplace and they bravely step forward to warn the proper authorities or public. Because of retaliation against such courageous people, whistleblower protections exist to protect whistleblowers and encourage potential whistleblowers to come forward without fear of retaliation. These laws exist at both a federal and state level.

Stepping forward is never easy, but it is easier once an employee knows that the law is on their side.  Whistleblowers who have already experienced various forms of retaliation—such as termination, demotions, withholding of pay, lack of advancement, and threats of legal action—should contact an employment attorney right away to learn more about their rights.

 

Whistleblower: QUI TAM / False Claims Act

If you know of a fraud being committed against the Federal Government, call the Derek Smith Law Group, PLLC, immediately. In recent years, the Federal Government has fallen victim to billions of dollars in fraud, typically seen in areas involving the health care industry, the financial industry, the pharmaceutical industry, environmental regulation, grant recipients, nonrenewable resources (such as oil, gas and mining), and insistences involving military government contractors.  To rectify this fraud, individuals with information pertaining to fraud may bring “Qui Tam” actions against private companies committing such frauds.

“Qui Tam” is short for, “qui tam pro domino rege quam pro se ipso in hac parte sequitur,” meaning “[he] who sues in this matter for the king as well as for himself.” When Qui Tam plaintiffs bring a “Qui Tam” claim, they are essentially bringing a claim on behalf of the Federal Government – and, in turn, they are righting a fraud perpetrated against the Federal Government. The reward to the Qui Tam whistleblower is normally between 15% and 25% of the amount recovered, which can be substantial.

Similarly, employers can bring claims against private companies, on behalf of the federal government, via the False Claims Act. The False Claims Act, also known as “Lincoln’s Law,” was established in the wake of massive fraud committed against the federal government in the post-Civil War, reconstruction era.

Since the revival of the False Claims Act by the 1986 Amendments, the Federal government has aggressively pursued criminal, civil, and administrative actions against those who embezzle money from the federal government. Since there is no shortage of corrupt contractors working on behalf of the United States, the government and regulators have been busy and sometime need to rely upon individuals for information.

If you have information pertaining to a fraud against the Federal Government, you could re-coop a significant amount of money. Call the Derek Smith Law Group, PLLC immediately to see if you could potentially recover significant money as a Qui Tam or False Claims Act whistleblower. However, to secure the protections available and rewards as a Qui Tam or False Claims Act whistleblower, a qualified person reporting such misconduct must be follow with specific requirements under such laws, this includes filing the disclosure with designated organizations and within specified timeframes. Otherwise, if a Qui Tam or False Claims Act whistleblower does not abide by the statutory requirements, the whistleblower may lose the opportunity for compensation and protection under the law.   

If you have information pertaining a fraud against the federal government or you think that you may qualify as a Qui Tam or False Claims Act whistleblower, you could re-coop a significant amount of money. Call the Derek Smith Law Group, PLLC immediately to see if you could potentially recover significant money as a Qui Tam or False Claims Act whistleblower. Please contact the Derek Smith Law Group, PLLC by calling our toll-free number 877-469-5297 today. 

 

Whistleblower under: SEC / CFTC Whistleblower

If you have information of securities fraud or other wrongdoing in violation of SEC regulations, please call the Derek Smith Law Group, PLLC, immediately. As stated in the SEC website (https://www.sec.gov/whistleblower):

Assistance and information from a whistleblower who knows of possible securities law violations can be among the most powerful weapons in the law enforcement arsenal of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Through their knowledge of the circumstances and individuals involved, whistleblowers can help the Commission identify possible fraud and other violations much earlier than might otherwise have been possible. That allows the Commission to minimize the harm to investors, better preserve the integrity of the United States’ capital markets, and more swiftly hold accountable those responsible for unlawful conduct. The Commission is authorized by Congress to provide monetary awards to eligible individuals who come forward with high-quality original information that leads to a Commission enforcement action in which over $1,000,000 in sanctions is ordered. The range for awards is between 10% and 30% of the money collected.

As defined by the SEC, an “eligible whistleblower” is a person who voluntarily provides the SEC with original information about a probable violation of the federal securities laws that has either occurred, is ongoing, or is about to occur. Such original information provided by the SEC whistleblower must then lead result in a successful SEC action resulting in an order of monetary sanctions exceeding $1 million.

Moreover, one or several individuals in a group are allowed to act as a SEC whistleblower, however organizations or companies do not qualify. Additionally, it is not prerequisite that the SEC whistleblower be an employee of the company to submit information about a company’s probable violation, and as a whistleblower you can remain anonymous throughout the SEC investigation. 

If you have information pertaining to SEC violations, you could re-coop a significant amount of money. Call the Derek Smith Law Group, PLLC immediately to see if you could potentially recover significant money as a SEC whistleblower. Please contact the Derek Smith Law Group, PLLC by calling our toll-free number 877-469-5297 today. 

 

WHISTLEBLOWERS UNDER: NEW YORK LAW

Like the federal government, the state of New York has adopted statutory protections for certain protected activities. Most notably, New York employees are protected under general whistleblower protection statutes and anti-retaliation provisions as well as a whistleblower protection statute for health care employees.

Under the General Whistleblower Protection, employers may not discharge (or discriminate against) employees in retaliation for making a complaint, instituting a proceeding, or testifying at a proceeding concerning a violation of New York’s labor laws (such as state occupational safety and health laws). The complaint brought by the whistleblower may be made to either the New York commissioner of labor or the employer. N.Y. Lab. Law § 215.

General Whistleblower Protections because of Danger to Public Health or Safety:

An employee may not be discharged or penalized in retaliation for the following activities: Disclosing an illegal activity, policy, or practice of the employer that presents a substantial and specific danger to the public health or safety.

The disclosure must be made to either a supervisor or a public body (such as a legislative body, a judicial officer, an administrative agency, or law enforcement agency). However, if an employee chooses to report the violation to a public body, the employee must first bring the violation to the attention of a supervisor and then give the employer a reasonable opportunity to correct the activity, policy, or practice. Providing information or testimony to a public body in the course of an investigation, hearing, or inquiry into an activity, policy, or practice that presents a substantial and specific danger to the public health and safety. Objecting to, or refusing to participate in, an illegal activity, policy, or practice that presents a substantial and specific danger to the public health or safety.

N.Y. Lab. Law § 740 holds an employee cannot be terminated for opposing any activity, policy, or practice which “creates and presents a substantial and specific danger to the public health or safety, or which constitutes health care fraud.”

Health Care Whistleblowers because of Improper Quality of Patient Care: Healthcare employees have similar protections to the above “general whistleblower protection because of danger to public health or safety.”

As such, there are two circumstances where it is unlawful under New York law for employees working in healthcare to be retaliated against or discharged:

  • Disclosing, or threatening to disclose to either a supervisor or to a public body, an employer’s policy or practice that the employee believes creates improper quality of patient care. And unlike the general whistleblower protection statute, the employee’s belief that the policy or practice constitutes improper quality of patient care does not need to be correct, it only needs to be a reasonable belief in good faith.
  • Objecting to, or refusing to participate in, an activity, policy, or practice that the employee finds to create an improper quality of patient care. To qualify under this specific protection, the whistleblower must 1) first inform a supervisor of the improper quality of patient care and 2) then give the employer a reasonable opportunity to correct the activity, policy, or practice. If the employee goes directly to a public body, an employee is not protected. However, under N.Y. Lab. Law § 741 there is an exception when improper quality of patient care presents an imminent threat either to the public health, public safety, or to a patient, and the employee reasonably believes that reporting the violation to a supervisor would not correct the problem. Again, the employee’s belief that the policy or practice constitutes improper quality of patient care does not need to be correct, it only needs to be a reasonable belief in good faith.

Moreover, there are similar protections provided to employees working in nursing homes. Under N.Y. CLS Soc. Serv. § 460, an employee may not be retaliated against for reporting improper operation of a nursing care facility.

 

WHISTLEBLOWERS UNDER: FLORIDA LAW

Like federal law, and New York law, Florida also has its own set of protections. Under the Florida Public Whistleblower’s Act (“FPWA”), an employee cannot be terminated for opposing any activity, policy, or practice when a Florida Whistleblower Plaintiff engaged in a statutorily protected disclosure.

Additionally, under Florida Stat. § 112.3187(5)(a) and (b), FPWA states that a whistleblower is protected when the whistleblower reports:

1) a “violation or suspected violation of law committed by another employee, agent of an agency, or independent contractor, which creates and presents a substantial and specific danger to the public’s health, safety, or welfare,” or

2)  “an act or suspected act of gross mismanagement, malfeasance, misfeasance, gross waste of public funds, suspected or actual Medicaid fraud or abuse, or gross neglect of duty committed by an employee, agent of an agency, or independent contractor.” 

 

If You Believe You Qualify as a Whistleblower, Call Us Today!

The first step in proving a basic case of whistleblower retaliation is coming forward. Speaking out about and employer’s illegal activity is a bold act and can be risky because such brave acts sometimes lead to an employee’s retaliation, or termination. Objecting to or reporting such activities should not lead to a whistleblower’s firing… but if it does, the Derek Smith Law Group’s employment lawyers can often help.

If you have been wrongfully terminated or subjected to retaliation for reporting the misconduct or illegal activity of your employer in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, or Florida, it is critically important that you seek legal advice to learn your rights and to seek any available compensation. If you believe that your rights under federal, New York, or Florida whistleblower law have been violated, you should contact an employment lawyer to learn more about your rights.

We understand that the decision to come forward with information about a company’s wrongdoing is not one taken lightly, and we are here to answer any questions you may have and to help guide you in the right direction. If you need a whistleblower attorney, please contact the Derek Smith Law Group, PLLC by calling our toll-free number 877-469-5297 today.