Employers React to Growing Role of Whistleblowers with Online Reporting System
11/06/2013 // Whistleblower Law Firm (Press Release) // Keller Grover LLP // (press release)
As whistleblower laws continue to gain traction — and deliver results — across the country, companies are increasingly taking notice. A new high-tech reporting system — introduced in October by LockPath, a Kansas-based provider of governance, risk management, and compliance solutions – is one example of the growing reaction to the role whistleblowers play in the corporate arena. The cloud-based platform — called the Anonymous Incident Portal (AIP) – is billed as a way for employees to anonymously report incidents, complaints, and violations. The idea being that companies can then learn of the improper activities, and correct them.
“There’s no coincidence that corporate America is increasing its efforts to learn of fraud from within” says Jeffrey F. Keller, a founding partner at Keller Grover, a nationally recognized labor and employment law firm, and a veteran whistleblower lawyer. “There is good reason this is happening now. Laws like the False Claims Act have exposed the magnitude of the fraud in corporate America, and the whistleblowers using these laws have prompted these companies to have to return billions to the government in penalties and fines. They’re not happy that some of that money goes to the whistleblower who exposed them, either.”
The federal False Claims Act has spurred more than $34 billion in recoveries since the mid 1980s. Many whistleblower laws and programs — like those launched recently by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Internal Revenue Service — award whistleblowers a share in any ultimate recovery.
“We like to think that companies will learn of misbehavior and fix it. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen in many cases,” cautions Keller. “Whistleblowers need to recognize that a company’s compliance program, even if it’s supposed to be anonymous, is not set up to protect the whistleblower. It’s there to protect the company against the revelation of what the whistleblower knows. That is an inherent conflict of interest and it’s an important reason whistleblowers need to know their rights outside of their employer’s compliance program.”
Those rights, says Keller and other whistleblower lawyers, include not just the ability to pursue remedies under statutes like the False Claims Act, which provide a process for judicial intervention, and real legal protections against retaliation for speaking out, and remedies if it happens anyway. They also include the right to have a lawyer representing the whistleblower who is looking out for the whistleblower’s interests, and not the interests of the company committing the fraud. An experienced whistleblower lawyer can help navigate the web of decisions that an employee might be facing and make sure each step protects the whistleblower to the fullest extent possible. In some instances, that may not involve telling the company internally before reporting it to the government.
“By promoting these internal compliance programs these companies are finally acknowledging the extent to which fraud exists in their ranks. That’s great,” says Keller, whose firm has offices in Los Angeles and San Francisco. “But just because they’re selling it as in the company’s best interest doesn’t mean the whistleblower has to buy it.”
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