Some workers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania have knowledge that their employers are committing fraud against the government and want to report it. While whistleblowing allows people a way to do the right thing, it also can expose workers to job loss and reputational damage within their fields.
If you would like to report the fraud that you have discovered at your company, the protections that you might have available to you will depend on whether the law that is being violated is a federal or state law and whether you are a public or private employee. Before you blow the whistle, it is a good idea to get advice from the attorneys at Swartz Swidler about how to protect yourself when you report it.
Protection under state laws
Both New Jersey and Pennsylvania have enacted state whistleblower protection laws that are meant to protect people who report fraud against the state government. The New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act protects both public and private employees who report fraud that is being committed. Under the law, employees are required to first report what they have discovered to their immediate supervisors so that the companies have a chance to take corrective action.
However, employees are allowed to skip past this step if they believe that they may be subjected to physical harm for reporting it. If they are terminated, demoted or otherwise retaliated against by their employers for reporting the fraudulent conduct, employees may file civil lawsuits against their employers within one year of the incident. Pennsylvania’s law is similar in that it offers protection to both public and private employees.
It is important to note that people will need to be able to prove a causal link between their reports and their terminations. Before you report fraud, you should first obtain a copy of your personnel file so that you can get copies of your past performance evaluations. Many companies will argue that their reasons for firing whistleblowers were due to their poor performance at their jobs. The attorneys at Swartz Swidler can offer you guidance about the types of evidence that you should gather in advance of whistleblowing.
Protection under federal law
The federal False Claims Act contains some qui tam provisions which protect whistleblowers who report fraud that is being committed against federal agencies. While the False Claims Act has very strong protective measures in place for whistleblowers, it also contains very complex requirements in order to be protected.
When you are thinking about reporting your employer for fraud to the state or federal government, it is important for you to get help from experienced counsel. An attorney can help you to take steps to protect yourself before you make your report and then assist you with filing it. Contact the attorneys at Swartz Swidler to learn more about how you can protect yourself while acting as a whistleblower.