In the business world, it is a commonly held belief that getting ahead requires and justifies unethical behavior - sometimes even illegal behavior. While there are plenty of companies that obey all applicable laws and demand that all employees act with integrity, there are other companies that will always put profit ahead of everything else.
For this and other reasons, whistleblowers are essential to the goal of holding businesses accountable for their misdeeds. Not only does the law protect whistleblowers from retaliation by their employers, it sometimes rewards them financially as well. A recent case is a good example.
In 2014, pharmaceutical company Endo settled a lawsuit with the Department of Justice for $171.9 million. The company was accused of marketing its Lidoderm pain patch for off-label uses. When the FDA approves a given drug, it approves it only for certain uses. Doctors can prescribe the drug for uses other than FDA-approved ones, but drug companies are prohibited from marketing drugs for any off-label uses.
A woman named Peggy Ryan first brought a whistleblower lawsuit against Endo. She had been a sales representative for the company and was concerned over off-label marketing. She was instrumental in reporting the illegal behavior as well as in helping the FBI gather evidence.
Because Ms. Ryan was a whistleblower under the False Claims Act, she was entitled to receive between 15 and 25 percent of the settlement money. In July, it was reported that she will be paid approximately $33.6 million for her role in the case.
If you become aware of illegal activity at your own place of business, you may not be rewarded with tens of millions of dollars for speaking up. But at the very least, your job should be protected. It is illegal to fire or otherwise retaliate against whistleblowers. If you'd like to understand more about these important job protections and your rights, please contact an experienced employment law attorney.
Source: Fierce Pharma, "Endo whistleblower nabs $33.6M from feds for 'extraordinary' work in FCA suit," Carly Helfand, July 16, 2015