A whistleblower, or qui tam, case is a type of lawsuit where a private individual assists in a civil complaint against a company or similar entity that is accused of defrauding the United States government. Whistleblower or qui tam cases have historically resulted in the recoupment of billions of dollars of money in favor of the United States government and taxpayers.

Financial incentives prescribed by whistleblower statutes have been enacted in order to encourage employees to report company wrongdoing. In essence, those individuals who come forward as whistleblowers are rewarded for their willingness to do the right thing in the face of corporate fraud or wrongdoing. Both federal and state laws also provide protection against retaliation for employees who report the unethical actions of their employers. Consequently, employees who report violations are afforded certain protections by law in order to promote such individual's conscientious efforts to correct wrongdoing. Further, certain qui tam lawsuits may be filed under seal in order to protect the identity of the whistleblower.

The following are some examples of types of cases initiated by citizens who have stepped forward to "blow the whistle" on company wrongdoing:

  • Defense contractor fraud
  • Healthcare fraud
  • Medicare fraud
  • Federal securities law violations - Securities and Exchanges Commission ("SEC") and Sarbanes-Oxley violations
  • IRS whistleblowers - Tax Relief & Health Care Act

Under a codification of laws known as the False Claims Act, a private citizen may sue an individual or business that is defrauding the United States government. An individual who brings a valid action under the False Claims Act and who recovers funds in favor of the government can be awarded a percentage of the recovered funds. The False Claims Act also specifically calls for the documents filed in a qui tam case to be sealed for sixty days. However, courts typically extend the time period under which the case is sealed in order for the government to determine whether it will include itself in prosecution of the case.

Some states have their own additional whistleblower requirements. For example, California's Whistleblower Protection Act requires that all whistleblower claims are properly addressed. Employers are required to provide a whistleblower hotline number for employees. Specific protections are also provided for those who refuse to take part in wrongdoing, and instead report violations. Employers who retaliate against whistleblowers in California are subject to additional civil penalties for retaliation.


When an employee or a person learns of potential company fraud or wrongdoing, it is often helpful for them to discuss the matter with an attorney who is experienced in evaluating whistleblower claims against what are usually large companies. If you believe the company you work for, or any other company, is defrauding the government and taxpayers, and would like to speak an attorney to discuss the matter, please contact us. One of our experienced attorneys will discuss your whistleblower matter and provide a free and confidential evaluation of whether your employer is in violation of any laws.