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Whistleblower Laws

A whistleblower may blow the whistle for a number of reasons. These include but are not limited to:

  • Safety Violations or Other Work-Related Wrongdoings
  • Medical Malpractice
  • Corporate Corruption
  • Fraudulent Acts in the Government

There are different laws that protect different types of whistleblowers.

Work-related wrongdoings protected by OSHA

You may file a complaint with OSHA if your employer retaliates against you (termination or any other unfavorable personnel action) because you engaged in protected activity relating to:

  • workplace safety or health
  • asbestos in schools
  • cargo containers
  • airlines
  • commercial motor carrier
  • consumer product
  • environment
  • financial reform
  • food safety
  • health insurance reform
  • motor vehicle safety
  • public transportation agency
  • railroads
  • securities laws

Whistleblower Laws enforced by OSHA

The laws listed below are enforced by OSHA for whistleblowers. It is important to note that each law requires that complaints be filed within a certain number of days after the alleged retaliation against the whistleblower.

  • Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (90 days)
  • Clean Air Act (30 days)
  • Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (30 days)
  • Consumer Financial Protection Act of 201o (180 days)
  • Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (180 days)
  • Federal Water Pollution Control Act (30 days)
  • Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (motor vehicle safety) (180 days)
  • Occupational Safety and Health Act (30 days)
  • Safe Drinking Water Act (30 days)
  • Section 402 of the FDA Food Safety
  • Modernization Act (180 days)
  • Section 1558 of the Affordable Care Act (180 days)
  • Surface Transportation Assistance Act (180 days)
  • Toxic Substances Control Act (30 days)
  • Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (90 days)

Whistleblower Protection Act

The Whistblower Act (WPA) seeks to protect the whistleblower for reporting misconduct or wrongdoings made by a company or organization. This act covers all forms of whistleblowing; medical malpractice, corporate corruption, and fraudulent acts in the government. The WPA was first enacted by Congress in 1989 with the intent to help improve “the protection for the rights of Federal employees, to prevent reprisals, and to help eliminate wrongdoing within the Government,” by making sure employees do not suffer consequences following the report of a wrongdoing.

False Claims Act and Qui Tam

The False Claims Act (FCA) was enacted in 1863 after believing that supplies provided to the Union Army during the Civil War were defrauding the Army. The FCA was established so there could be legal action taken against an individual “who knowingly submits a false claim to the government or causes another to submit a false claim to the government or knowingly makes a false record or statement to get a false claim paid by the government.” Section 3729(a)(1)(G) is the reverse to the false claims section; “it provides liability where one acts improperly – not to get money from the government, but to avoid having to pay money to the government.” It is important to note the FCA does not apply to tax claims under the Internal Revenue Code.* One does not automatically violate the FCA if they submit a false claim to the government; there is a knowledge requirement. The main basis of the FCA is that the organization knowingly submits a claim that is false, ultimately defrauding the government. Knowledge of the false information is defined as:

  1. actual knowledge,
  2. deliberate ignorance of the truth or falsity of the information
  3. reckless disregard of the truth or falsity of the information

Qui Tam

The FCA allows private persons to file suit for violations of the FCA on behalf of the  government. A suit filed by an individual on behalf of the government is known as a “qui tam” action, and the person bringing the action is referred to as a “relator” or now known as the whistleblower.

Stark Law

Stark Law can sometimes be referenced in Medical Malpractice suits. The law seeks to govern physician self-referrals for Medicare and Medicaid patients; “physician self-referral is the practice of a physician referring a patient to a medical facility in which he has a financial interest, be it ownership, investment, or a structured compensation arrangement.” If the physician is reported practicing self-referrals it would seem the physician has a conflict of interest, specifically a financial interest. The physician is essentially working to get more money from the government by referring within their own practices.

Contact an attorney for help with your Whistleblower case

There are many instances that employees or victims of a company’s wrongdoing should blow the whistle. Knowing your rights as a whistleblower would be in your best interest; furthermore, seeking the assistance of an attorney to help you with your case could drastically change the outcome of the case–in your favor. Christensen & Hymas can help you with just that, call today at (801)506-0800 for a free consultation.

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