When an employee, government agent or business professional uncovers illegal actions, ethics violations or moral wrongdoing, they have a right to speak up and hold the organization accountable for their actions. Individuals are often frightened to speak up, however, for fear of retaliation.
In recent years, whistleblowers have exposed numerous incidents of pharmaceutical fraud. With billions and billions of dollars at stake, pharmaceutical reps feel forced to develop aggressive marketing programs that cross the line into fraud and kickbacks.
Examples of pharmaceutical kickbacks can include:
- Material gifts including computers, golf clubs, purses or similarly expensive items
- Direct cash payments
- Payment of consultant fees
- Tickets to sporting events, concerts or shows
- All expenses paid holidays
- Paid speaking engagements
Other examples of fraud can include:
- Clinical trials manipulation
- Off-label marketing
- Medicaid best price fraud
- Illegal drug-switching
Fortunately, whistleblowers are legally protected from retaliation.
What is retaliation?
Retaliation occurs when an employer takes adverse action against an employee for engaging in protected activity. Adverse action can include:
- Denying promotion
- Denying benefits
- Changing work schedule
- Changing work responsibilities
- Reduction in pay or hours
In most situations, whistleblowers have a certain set of legal protections designed to shield them from retaliation or constructive discharge. If you have uncovered ethics violations or evidence of pharmaceutical fraud, it is wise to discuss the matter with a skilled attorney as soon as possible. An experienced lawyer can thoroughly review your situation and provide guidance including your next steps, the protections you are provided and the possibility of monetary recovery under the False Claims Act.