WHISTLE-BLOWER REGULATIONS

WHISTLE-BLOWER REGULATIONS Persons who go public with violations of law by their employers, particularly violations involving fraud against the government, are known as whistle-blowers. In the absence of specific statutory protections, whistle-blowers may find themselves out of a job with little right to complain. A number of jurisdictions have decided, however, that whistle-blowers should receive some limited protection.

A Civil War-era federal statute known as the False Claims Act permits anyone who learns about fraud against the U.S. government to file a lawsuit in the name of the government. For example, suppose a computer company that has a contract to provide programming services to the U.S. Department of Treasury overbills for time spent in writing a software program. If a disgruntled company employee learns of the overbilling and files suit against the company under the False Claims Act, a provision of the act prohibits the company from firing or otherwise retaliating against the employee. The act provides the employee with an incentive to sue by allowing him or her to collect a percentage of any recovery from the suit.

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Some states have enacted their own whistle-blower laws protecting employees who disclose fraud at the state level.

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