Whistleblowers have helped uncover fraud and corruption within major organizations such as Enron, WorldCom, Brown & Williamson Tobacco, and even the federal government. There’s no doubt that whistleblowers play an important role in the U.S. But unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions out there about these brave men and women. Here’s the truth behind the most common misconceptions about whistleblowers:
Misconception #1: Whistleblowers Are Disgruntled Employees
Some people believe that whistleblowers choose to speak out solely because they are disgruntled employees who want to retaliate against their employers. But, this is certainly not the case. Whistleblowers typically take action because they feel they have a moral or ethical obligation to protect the public and report wrongdoing. In most cases, these individuals are simply trying to do the right thing.
Misconception #2: Whistleblowers Go Straight to the Authorities
It’s true that whistleblowers often report wrongdoing to government officials, but this does not mean that all whistleblowers go straight to the authorities. In fact, the majority of people who identify serious problems want to notify the appropriate parties within their organization first. If these parties fail to take action, whistleblowers often feel they have no other choice but to alert authorities outside of the organization. But, if the problem is handled internally, whistleblowers have no need to make the matter public.
Misconception #3: It’s All About the Money
Some whistleblowers are entitled to compensation for reporting wrongdoing to the authorities. For example, let’s say a whistleblower reports a company for defrauding the federal government. Under the False Claims Act, this whistleblower could be awarded a percentage of the money that the government is able to recover from the company who committed fraud.
However, most whistleblower protection laws do not offer this type of financial reward, so it’s rare for a whistleblower to actually cash in on their decision to alert the authorities. Furthermore, whistleblowers usually face a great deal of backlash as a result of their actions, so their suffering often outweighs the potential reward. For these reasons, it’s safe to say that the vast majority of whistleblowers are not motivated by money.
Employers often retaliate against whistleblowers to punish them for reporting wrongdoing. If this happens to you, it’s in your best interest to contact Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. at once. Let our experienced attorneys ensure you are fully compensated for the damage caused by your employer’s retaliatory behavior. Call us now at 918-582-2500, toll free at (800) 722-8880, or contact us online for a free consultation with a skilled attorney.