The federal government encourages employees in Rhode Island to step up and act as whistleblowers when they have information about illegal acts occurring at their place of employment. While confidentiality is a prominent part of the process, whistleblowers who provide information that leads to successful prosecution can receive anywhere from 10% to 30% of funds recovered by the U.S. government in their enforcement action.
SEC issues four whistleblower awards
In January 2022, the Securities and Exchange Commission awarded four individuals monetary awards for information they provided in successful whistleblower cases. One whistleblower received $650,000, while another received $20,000. In the third and fourth cases, the whistleblowers each received unspecific amounts of 30% of the funds received. Whistleblower program rules indicate that the maximum award of 30% may be applied in cases where the top award would be $5 million or less and no negative factors are present.
Reasons cited for awarding these individuals include:
- Provided ongoing information, essential documents and participated in voluntary interviews with SEC staff
- Alerted staff to an ongoing fraud case through critical documents and ongoing conversations
- Provided more than limited assistance leading to the opening of new investigations of alleged misconduct
Your employer cannot retaliate against you in whistleblower claims
You have a right to report any illegal actions or activities that threaten the public’s safety. Although whistleblower claims are supposed to be confidential, sometimes information may leak. In such cases, your employer cannot retaliate against you for filing the claim.
Whistleblower protections also apply to employees who did not report the illegal action but have refused to participate in any activities surrounding it. Retaliation can include terminating employment, denying a promotion, denying schedule changes, and showing preferential treatment to other employees who have chosen to look the other way when illegal activities occur.