Atlanta Whistleblower Lawyer
If you’ve ever seen illegal activity taking place in your workplace and have been afraid to report it, you’re definitely not alone. Regardless of the whistleblower laws in place, people are still fearful of the repercussions. Whistleblower laws are intended to protect employees who disclose and report activities seen as potentially illegal or put public health or safety at risk. When an employee reports fraud, waste, safety violations, or similar hazards, they’re protected, provided they follow the law.
If you’ve reported a violation and are being retaliated against, or if you’re considering reporting a violation but would like to speak with an attorney first, Williams Oinonen LLC can help. Our attorneys have experience handling these types of cases and will do everything possible to make sure you’re protected and your identity is kept confidential to the extent possible. Contact an Atlanta whistleblower lawyer today for a consultation by filling out our online form or calling (404) 654-0288.
What Is a Whistleblower?
A whistleblower is an employee who reports wrongdoings within a private, public, or government organization to law enforcement or someone who has the authority to investigate these claims. A whistleblower is usually an employee who observes or learns about illegal activity that their employer is engaged in.
Why You Need a Lawyer
Anytime you report behavior or activities that are illegal or fraudulent that will directly impact your employer, it can be a scary situation to be in. There’s no question that it’s the right thing to do, but this doesn’t make it any easier, knowing that your employer might not follow the law and could retaliate against you. Before reporting anything, it’s essential that you know all of the laws and your rights so you can fight back if you end up in a situation where you’re being treated unlawfully. The fact that you are within your rights and your identity should be kept confidential doesn’t mean your employer will take kindly to your disclosure. This is why it’s essential to speak with a lawyer before you make any reports or disclosures. They can assist you in understanding your rights, and they can help you with the reporting process to ensure that you aren’t retaliated against. In today’s difficult political climate, it is absolutely necessary to contact an attorney before you become a whistleblower. Your job and your personal safety can be at risk if you don’t prepare properly.
State and Federal Laws
There are federal protections for whistleblowers, as well as protections at the state level as well.
Georgia Whistleblower Protection Act
In Georgia, whistleblowers in public positions are protected by the whistleblower protection act, which makes it illegal for public employers to enforce, adopt, or implement a policy or practice that prevents a public employee from revealing a violation of or noncompliance with a regulation, rule, or law to a governmental agency or a supervisor within the company. Additionally, it is illegal for a public employer to retaliate against a public employee who reports such a violation. If you reported something knowing that it was false, or you made a report with a reckless lack of concern regarding whether the alleged violation was true or not, then you would not be protected under the whistleblower protection act.
Georgia Taxpayer Protection False Claims Act and State False Medicaid Claims Act
The Georgia Taxpayer Protection False Claims Act and the State False Medicaid Claims Act impose civil liability against any person, corporation or other legal entity that knowingly submits false or fraudulent claims. Both Acts allow whistleblowers to file ‘qui tam’ lawsuits to recover funds on behalf of the state and provide legal protections against workplace retaliation.
The ‘qui tam’ lawsuits entitle whistleblowers to a percentage of the recovered funds that can range from 15 to 30 percent depending on the facts of the case. In both instances, a ‘qui tam’ claim must be filed within ten years of the date of the violation.
There are several federal laws that protect whistleblowers, including (but not limited to) the Federal False Claims Act and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX).
Federal False Claims Act
Under the False Claims Act, an individual with knowledge of fraud against the government is permitted to file a lawsuit on behalf of the United States. If the individual wins the case, they are entitled to some of the monetary award, including compensation for attorney’s fees. This act protects individuals who initiate this lawsuit from facing retaliation.
Under the False Claims Act, an employee who reports fraud and is then terminated, demoted, harassed, or discriminated or retaliated against is entitled to reinstatement, double back pay, and litigation costs, and attorneys’ fees.
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act protects whistleblowers when they provide information about securities fraud, shareholder fraud, bank fraud, a violation of an SEC rule or regulation, mail fraud, or wire fraud. To be protected under this act, the reported activity doesn’t have to be accurate as long as it was objectively reasonable. If the employee can prove that a person with the same factual information with the same training and experience would have believed that the employer violated securities laws, they are protected from discrimination and retaliation, even if the employer didn’t actually engage in any violations.
An Atlanta Whistleblower Lawyer Is Here to Protect You
At their core, whistleblower laws are designed to protect employees who bring forward concerns about illegal activities or other hazards within their company, government agency, or other organization. If you’ve reported something and have been retaliated against in any way, contact Williams Oinonen LLC immediately. It’s unacceptable for you to be punished or illegally retaliated against for reporting a violation. Our primary goal is to ensure that you are protected and safe if you are reporting illegal business or government violations. We understand how frightening it can be to report a violation about your current employer. You’re probably worried about your job security, which is entirely normal. We will do everything in our power to ensure that your employer doesn’t get away with treating you illegally. Contact an Atlanta whistleblower lawyer today for a consultation by filling out our online form or calling (404) 654-0288.