A whistleblower is someone who stands up for what he or she reasonably believes is right, and reports fraud, or a violation of law, rule, or regulation, or, in some instances, gross waste, gross mismanagement, or abuse of authority. Whistleblowers can be Government employees, or private citizens, depending on the circumstances.
Whistleblowers who report false claims by Government contractors that are defrauding the Government of money may sometimes help the Government recover lost funds and keep a portion of this recovery. The Federal statute giving you the right to such recovery is the Federal False Claims Act.
Non-governmental employees who report environmental, health, or safety violations, or securities regulations violations, or certain other types of unlawful activities, and who suffer some action against them at work for having made a complaint, can file a claim within 30 days at the United States Department of Labor. After an investigation, you can have a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge at the Department and reverse the action against you and recover damages.
Among Federal employees, under the Whistleblower Protection Act, a whistleblower is someone who reports fraud, gross waste, gross mismanagement, abuse of authority, or a violation of law, rule, or regulation by a United States Government agency. What you are reporting must be reasonable, but it does not need to be proven true in the end. You must make your complaint known to someone in management other than the wrongdoer. Agencies have Inspectors General (IGs) to receive and investigate such complaints, but it is not mandatory that you report to the IG in order to be a whistleblower. Once a Federal employee has made a complaint, if managers know of the complaint, and soon thereafter they begin to take actions against the employee, which might tend to discourage complaints in the future (for example, issuing you an unpaid disciplinary suspension, or demoting you), then you can file a complaint with the United States Office of Special Counsel. After 120 days, you can file an Individual Right of Action complaint with the Merit Systems Protection Board.
Whether or not you have already filed a complaint, please contact Bryan Schwartz if you believe you have suffered or may suffer whistleblower retaliation and you need a lawyer's advice.