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Can I Be Compensated For Being a Whistleblower?

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One of the most common questions people have when they are considering whether to file a whistleblower lawsuit is whether any financial award is available to whistleblowers. In other words, can whistleblowers get paid?

The simple answer is that, yes, successful whistleblowers are entitled to a financial reward under the False Claims Act. In general, whistleblowers receive a percentage of the government’s ultimate recovery, and depending on the extent of fraud, the compensation for blowing the whistle can be substantial.

Whistleblower Compensation Under the False Claims Act

Under the False Claims Act, defendants found to have committed fraud against the government are liable for treble damages, or three times the amount of actual damages to the government, plus penalties of up to $11,000 per false claim. Successful whistleblowers, also referred to as relators, generally receive between 15 to 30 percent of the amount recovered by the government.

This percentage is determined according to a formula set up by the Act:

  • Relators receive 15 to 25 percent of the recovery if the government joined the case
  • Relators receive 25 to 30 percent of the recovery if they continued the case on their own after the government declined to intervene.[1]

Variables That Affect Whistleblower Compensation

Whistleblower compensation varies widely depending on the case. A number of factors come into play, including:

  • Quality of Information: Was the information you provided correct and reliable? Were you the original source? If your case is primarily based on information previously disclosed to the government, your reward will be reduced. [2]
  • Litigation assistance: Did you hire skilled attorneys with experience in whistleblower matters? Did your attorneys do legwork? If they contributed to helping the government build its case, the reward for you and your attorneys will likely by higher.
  • Relator complicity: Did you participate in the fraud? The government wants to encourage even those involved with criminal activity to blow the whistle, but this will negatively impact your reward.[3]

Relief from Whistleblower Retaliation

If you file a qui tam case against your employer and suffer negative employment consequences as a result, you may also have a case for unlawful retaliation under the False Claims Act.[4] If successful in the employment retaliation claim, you could receive double the amount of your back pay, as well as compensation for special damages, along with your share of the recovery in the qui tam claim.[5]

Are you considering filing a whistleblower claim? Explore our website to learn more about the False Claims Act, common types of fraud in healthcare and other industries, and current events impacting whistleblower cases. We understand that it's not easy to "blow the whistle," but the law is on your side and our experienced attorneys are here to help. Read more about successful whistleblower settlements Goldberg Kohn attorneys have obtained for our clients, or contact us to schedule a free and confidential consultation.


[1] See 31 U.S. Code  § 3730 (d) Award to Qui Tam Plaintiff

[2] 31 U.S. Code § 3730 (d)(1): "Where the action is one which the court finds to be based primarily on disclosures of specific information (other than information provided by the person bringing the action) relating to allegations or transactions in a criminal, civil or administrative hearing, in a congressional, administrative, or Government Accounting Office report, hearing, audit, or investigation, or from the news media, the court may award such sums as it considers appropriate, but in no case more than 10 percent of the proceeds, taking into account the significance of the information and the role of the person bringing the action in advancing the case to litigation" (emphasis added).

[3] 31 U.S. Code § 3730 (d)(3):"...if the court finds the action was brought by a person who planned and initiated the violation of section 3729 upon which the action was brought, then the court may, to the extent the court considers appropriate, reduce the share of the proceeds of the action which the person would otherwise receive…taking into account the role of that person in advancing the case to litigation and any relevant circumstances pertaining to the violation".

[4] See 31 U.S. Code § 3730 (h) Relief from Retaliatory Actions

[5] 31 U.S. Code § 3730 (h)(2):"Relief…shall include reinstatement with the same seniority status that employee, contractor, or agent would have had but for the discrimination, 2 times the amount of back pay, interest on the back pay, and compensation for any special damages sustained as a result of the discrimination, including litigation costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees".

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