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Who Qualifies as a SEC Whistleblower?

Definition of a Whistleblower

A whistleblower is a person or organization that reports original information of wrongdoing occurring in a corporation to the appropriate outside authorities.   

As you can guess, this single sentence can be parsed into many nuances and questions.  When is information deemed to be “original”?  Does a whistleblower need to work for the corporation in which he observes wrongful conduct?  What are the appropriate authorities?  What information should the whistleblower provide to the authorities?  How are whistleblowers protected from retaliation?  And of course, how, when and how much does a whistleblower receive in cash compensation and reward for becoming a whistleblower?  This section of our web site is designed then to break apart t the definition of a whistleblower and where possible address these many questions to see if you qualify as a whistleblower.

History of Whistleblower laws

The term “whistleblower” literally came from the old-English practice of a police officer – called a constable- blowing his whistle to summon aid from other constables.   In the United States, the seeds of modern day whistleblower laws and false claims acts came from the truly grizzly conduct of war profiteers during the Civil War.  Indeed, the first United States False Claims Act was deemed the “Lincoln Law”.

What the heck does “Qui Tam” mean?

If you have done any research into whistleblower laws, you undoubtedly have come across the term “Qui tam”.  Some whistleblower laws have “Qui tam” provisions; some do not.  The Lincoln Law was the first False Claims Act in this country that contained “Qui tam” provisions within the statute itself.   “Qui tam” is a term still used today in describing many modern day whistleblower laws.  “Qui tam” is an abbreviation for a Latin term "qui tam pro domino rege quam pro se ipso in hac parte sequitur," which roughly means "he who brings an action for the king as well as for himself.”  If a whistleblower law then has a “Qui tan” provision in it, then you can maintain a private cause of action to stop the fraud.

Whistleblower laws today

There exist today literally hundreds of whistleblower laws.  The federal government has enacted the False Claims Act and Congress has incorporated the provisions of the False Claims Act into dozens of federal statutes.  Most states too have enacted state specific whistleblower statutes.  Even larger cities have their respective false claims act and whistleblower laws.

One reason why you should consider working with a whistleblower attorney is to help you navigate this maze of whistleblower laws.