Whistleblowers should feel safe when it comes to raising concerns about fraud or abuse by their employers – even if the employer is a federal or state government agency.
Whistleblowers are generally protected against retaliation for alerting the government to fraud by their employers. However, when the employer is the government, a potential whistleblower may be understandably nervous about coming forward. Take the case of Darin Jones, a former FBI employee who claims that he was wrongfully terminated in retaliation for blowing the whistle on the federal agency. Jones worked as a supervisory contract specialist for the FBI until August 24, 2012, when he was fired. Jones alleges that he was only fired because he made whistleblower disclosures about improper procurement spending and other fraudulent activity and waste – disclosures that should have been protected under federal whistleblower anti-retaliation laws.
Jones appealed his firing, but his appeal was ultimately denied because he did not follow the proper procedure. Instead of adhering to FBI guidelines and bringing his allegations to the Office of Inspector General or the Office of Professional Responsibility, Jones took his retaliation claim to his direct supervisors.
The decisive issue in this case – whether Jones adhered to procedural requirements – should serve as a warning to anyone who is thinking about filing a qui tam action or claiming wrongful termination without first talking to a qualified qui tam whistleblower attorney. This area of the law is extremely complicated, whether the whistleblower is a federal employee or works for a private company.
When a concerned citizen comes forward to report wrongdoing, they should be commended. In many cases, the whistleblower in a qui tam action is rewarded with a percentage of any money that is later recovered by the government. However, there is always the potential for a good person who reports fraud to be punished in retaliation for their actions. The law is very clear that this kind of retaliation is not allowed, but the procedural process for seeking protection under the law is so complicated that whistleblowers need to make sure they have guidance from a qualified attorney.
To learn more about whistleblower protections for federal employees, read the Washington Post article, “How FBI Blocks Whistleblower Fighting Dismissal; New Bill Could Help Others.”
If you have knowledge of fraud being perpetrated against the federal government or the state government, or if you were retaliated against by your employer for reporting fraud, you should talk to a qualified qui tam lawyer. Contact the experienced whistleblower and qui tam attorneys at Begelman & Orlow, P. C. today to discuss your options.