Sometimes an individual discovers that a business or entity is partaking in an action that is committing fraud against the government. This individual has no legal obligation to file a lawsuit in regard to this if only a passive observer, and, in the process, may incur legal costs.
Therefore, as an incentive for justice to be done, the government has named these types of actions "qui tam" actions. The government offers certain monetary rewards for qui tam actions that result in a successful filing. The convicted person does not even need to be found guilty of intentional fraud, as long as it can be proven that they acted indifferently or recklessly enough to be negligent and therefore responsible for the result.
Are whistleblowers protected from retaliation?
The people who engage in qui tam actions usually have a lot at stake. Perhaps they are employed by a fraudulent company and they want to expose them. If it became known that this whistleblower acted to expose the company, many different serious outcomes could arise. Therefore many protections are put in place in order to protect the whistleblower's identity. However it is important to know that if the case is successful, the whistleblower's name will then be made public.
There is a more general law in place that protects any employee from retaliation for the reason of becoming known as a whistleblower in the company.
If you are concerned about your rights as a whistleblower, it is important that you consider your actions carefully and conduct thorough research based on your specific situation.
Source: FindLaw, "Qui Tam Actions," accessed Feb. 09, 2018