Why You Shouldn’t Wait if You Are Thinking About Blowing the Whistle

Are You Thinking About Blowing the Whistle? Learn Why It Is Important to Speak with a Lawyer Promptly

Lynette Byrd
Attorney Lynette Byrd
Whistleblower Team Lead
Former DOJ Attorneyenvelope iconContact Lynette
Nick Oberheiden
Tim Allen
Tim Allen
Whistleblower Team
Former Secret Service (Digital Forensics Expert)
Brian Kuester
Attorney Brian Kuester
Whistleblower Team
Former U.S. Attorney and District Attorneyenvelope iconContact Brian

If you are thinking about blowing the whistle, you have a very important decision ahead of you. Serving as a whistleblower is a commitment, and you will need to devote substantial time and effort to helping the government take action based on the information you have in your possession.

But, coming forward is also unquestionably the right thing to do. Federal agencies ranging from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) rely on whistleblowers to help them uncover fraud, abuse of government contracts and programs, and other forms of wrongdoing. With this in mind, if you are thinking about blowing the whistle, it is important that you speak with a lawyer—and it is important that you do so promptly.

Put our highly experienced team on your side

Dr. Nick Oberheiden
Dr. Nick Oberheiden

Founder

Attorney-at-Law

Lynette S. Byrd
Lynette S. Byrd

Former DOJ Trial Attorney

Partner

Brian J. Kuester
Brian J. Kuester

Former U.S. Attorney

Amanda Marshall
Amanda Marshall

Former U.S. Attorney

Local Counsel

Joe Brown
Joe Brown

Former U.S. Attorney

Local Counsel

John W. Sellers
John W. Sellers

Former Senior DOJ Trial Attorney

Linda Julin McNamara
Linda Julin McNamara

Federal Appeals Attorney

Aaron L. Wiley
Aaron L. Wiley

Former DOJ attorney

Local Counsel

Roger Bach
Roger Bach

Former Special Agent (DOJ)

Chris Quick
Chris J. Quick

Former Special Agent (FBI & IRS-CI)

Michael S. Koslow
Michael S. Koslow

Former Supervisory Special Agent (DOD-OIG)

Ray Yuen
Ray Yuen

Former Supervisory Special Agent (FBI)

7 Reasons to Speak with a Whistleblower Lawyer Promptly if You Are Thinking About Coming Forward

Here are seven reasons why you should speak with a whistleblower lawyer promptly if you are thinking about reporting fraud, waste, abuse, or other wrongdoing to the federal government:

1. You Are Under No Obligation to Blow the Whistle

One reason why you should speak with a whistleblower lawyer promptly is that you have no reason not to. Scheduling an appointment with a lawyer does not commit you to moving forward.

When you contact a lawyer about blowing the whistle, you are not expected to have already made up your mind. The purpose of an initial consultation is to provide you with a fact-finding opportunity so that you can make informed decisions about your next steps—whatever those next steps may be. An experienced whistleblower lawyer will not pressure you to move forward, but instead will focus on ensuring that you have all of the information you need to feel confident in your decision-making.

2. Talking to a Whistleblower Lawyer Costs Nothing

In this same vein, talking to a whistleblower lawyer costs nothing. Your initial consultation with a whistleblower lawyer is (or should be) completely free. Simply put, you shouldn’t have to pay to find out if you need a lawyer’s services.

Most whistleblower law firms (including ours) represent clients on a contingency-fee basis. This means that your legal fees, if any, will be paid by the government through your whistleblower compensation award—if you receive one. In most cases, whistleblower lawyers’ fees are calculated as a percentage of their clients’ compensation awards. You will not pay anything out of pocket; and, if you do not receive a whistleblower award, you will owe nothing. This should be made clear in your engagement agreement at the outset of your legal representation.

3. Your Lawyer Can Help You Make an Informed Decision About Whether to Come Forward

There are several factors involved in deciding whether to serve as a federal whistleblower. As a prospective whistleblower, it is important to know not only whether you can qualify for protection as a federal whistleblower, but also what you can expect during the process.

An experienced whistleblower lawyer will be able to explain everything you need to know. Your lawyer will assess your eligibility for protection under the relevant federal whistleblower statute, and your lawyer will walk you step-by-step through the process. This will allow you to make an informed decision with a clear understanding of the implications of your decision.

4. Preparing Your Whistleblower Complaint Will Take Time and Effort

If you decide to move forward with blowing the whistle, preparing your whistleblower complaint will take time and effort. So, the sooner your lawyer can get started, the better. As we discuss below, there are several benefits to filing a whistleblower complaint promptly—so, while it is important that you make an informed decision, it is also important that you do not delay your decision any longer than necessary.

To be clear, qualifying as a federal whistleblower does not mean calling a hotline or submitting a tip through a federal agency’s website. Each federal whistleblower statute and federal agency that accepts whistleblower complaints has its own unique set of substantive and procedural requirements.

5. You Must Be the First to Come Forward to Qualify as a Whistleblower (In Most Cases)

In most cases, to qualify for protection as a federal whistleblower, you must be the first to report a particular instance of fraud, waste, abuse, or other wrongdoing to the federal government. While there are exceptions under some federal whistleblower programs, it is generally best to avoid becoming reliant on these exceptions, if possible.

So, again, while it is important not to rush your decision, it is equally important that you take a diligent approach to deciding what to do with the information that you have. Once you make the decision to move forward (if you make the decision to move forward), you should communicate this to your lawyer promptly so that he or she can start preparing your complaint.

6. Coming Forward Promptly Will Help Minimize the Harm Resulting from the Wrongdoing

If you have information about fraud or other wrongdoing, coming forward promptly will help to minimize the harm to consumers, patients, investors, or U.S. taxpayers at large. Once you come forward, the government can work quickly if necessary to mitigate any ongoing risks; and, the sooner you file your complaint, the sooner the government can take any civil or criminal enforcement action that is warranted.

Additionally, if you need to report long-standing fraudulent or other wrongful practices, the statute of limitations for prosecuting past violations could potentially come into play. If the statute of limitations for prosecuting any violations expires, this will limit the government’s ability to hold the wrongdoer accountable.

7. Coming Forward Promptly Will Help Maximize the Government’s Chances of Enforcement and Recovery

Finally, regardless of any statute of limitations that may come into play, coming forward promptly will help maximize the government’s chances of enforcement and recovery. Delays in conducting investigations and initiating enforcement proceedings can lead to loss of evidence and other challenges in some cases. By coming forward as soon as you are prepared to do so, you can help give the government the best opportunity to establish full accountability.

While these are some of the main reasons why you shouldn’t wait if you are thinking about blowing the whistle, these are by no means the only reasons why you should consult with an attorney promptly. If you have any questions about serving as a federal whistleblower, we strongly encourage you to schedule a free and confidential consultation at Oberheiden P.C.

FAQs: Deciding When (and Whether) to File a Federal Whistleblower Complaint

How Long Do I Have to File a Federal Whistleblower Complaint?

While there aren’t any strict deadlines for filing a federal whistleblower complaint, waiting to file can limit the government’s ability to pursue a successful enforcement action. Federal statutes of limitations can also come into play in some cases; and, if the statute of limitations for pursuing enforcement expires, the government won’t be able to use the information you provide.

What If I Have Concerns About Being Implicated in the Wrongdoing?

If you are thinking about blowing the whistle but have concerns about being implicated in the wrongdoing that you would be reporting, you should seek advice from an experienced whistleblower lawyer promptly. There are ways that you can protect yourself in this situation, but informed decision-making is required.

What If I Have Concerns About Retaliation?

Private and public employers are prohibited from retaliating against whistleblowers under federal law. As a result, as a federal whistleblower, you should not face retaliation at work. If your employer retaliates against you illegally, your lawyer will be able to take appropriate legal action on your behalf.

Also, keep in mind that federal whistleblowers are entitled to confidentiality, and federal whistleblowers can file anonymously in some cases. As a result, there is a good chance that your employer won’t know that you blew the whistle.

What Happens if I Don’t Blow the Whistle on Federal Fraud, Waste, or Abuse?

The short answer to this question is, “Nothing.” If you don’t report fraud, waste, or abuse and the government has no way of uncovering it independently, nothing will happen. Whistleblowers play a critical role in the government’s fight against fraud, waste, and abuse—and this makes it extremely important that you make an informed decision about coming forward.

How Can I Decide Whether to Come Forward as a Federal Whistleblower?

To decide whether to come forward as a federal whistleblower, you should consult with an experienced lawyer promptly. At Oberheiden P.C., we represent prospective whistleblowers nationwide, and we can provide you with the information and insights you need to feel confident in your next steps.


Schedule a Free and Confidential Consultation with a Whistleblower Lawyer at Oberheiden P.C.

If you would like to speak with a federal whistleblower lawyer at Oberheiden P.C., we invite you to get in touch. To schedule an appointment at your convenience, please call 888-680-1745 or contact us confidentially online today.

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