The Chamber of Commerce has commenced a well-financed and aggressive lobbying campaign to undermine America’s most effective whistleblower law, the False Claims Act. To justify its anti-whistleblower campaign the Chamber published a report entitled, “Fixing the False Claims Act: the Case For Compliance-Focused Reforms.” The purpose of this blog series is to combat the Chamber’s misinformation, and explain why the False Claims Act must be protected.
Whistleblowers and their supporters are strongly urged to read this blog series and share it with friends. In addition, an Action Alert has been issued by the National Whistleblower Center so members of the public inform their representatives that the False Claims Act should not be “reformed” as proposed by the Chamber.
Fact Number 16:
The Chamber’s proposal that employees be compelled to report fraud to their bosses or to corporate counsel managed compliance programs violates numerous Supreme Court precedents, fundamental public policies, and the Federal Obstruction of Justice statute.
It is a fundamental right of citizens to report suspected criminal wrongdoing to law enforcement. Any incentive to hide or delay the disclosure of illegality from the appropriate authorities is a violation of some of the most important and time-honored public policies in a democratic state.
Consistent with these policies, federal law creates a near absolute protection for employees who contact federal law enforcement agencies in order to report suspected violations of law.
The Federal Obstruction of Justice statute criminalizes any attempt to interfere with the “livelihood” of any person who reports truthful information to a law enforcement agency regarding a potential violation of law:
“Whoever knowingly, with the intent to retaliate, takes any action harmful to any person, including interference with the lawful employment or livelihood of any person, for providing to a law enforcement officer any truthful information relating to the commission or possible commission of any Federal offense shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more then 10 years, or both.”28
If a citizen witnesses a young mugger stealing a pocketbook, it would be absurd to require that witness to call the mugger’s mother before notifying police. Corporate criminals should not be treated any better. If an employee witnesses a corporate crime, they should be encouraged to immediately report that crime to the police, and not be required to first report to the employer. That is the law and the tradition in the United States.