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I'm a student reporting frauds of federal funding. Do I qualify as a whistleblower?

Minneapolis, MN |

I'm a student at a public university in the state of Minnesota. I reported fraud and abuse of a federal grantee to the OIG of the granting federal Department, and that defrauding grantee contacted my university to put a hold on my student record. I'm pretty sure the Minnesota state statutes cover such reprisals on public establishment, but what federal protections do I qualify for? I'm only a student and not an employee, receiving course credit (which is now jeopardized because of that hold) but not monetary payment. I'm pretty unsure about the word "Employment" in the name of EEOC.

The reported grantee has interstate economic ties with my university. To the best of my knowledge, OIG's investigation into their alleged fraud and abuse has begun, but I'm not sure about OIG's jurisdiction over their retaliation thereof, and I'm asking about federal laws governing such conducts. I have not disclosed the grantee's identity to the public, and not filed a civil case in the Judicial Branch. I have alerted the Executive Branch and the GAO (which belongs to Congress), though. The reported fraud and abuse are continuously depriving my as well as that grantee's own students' education and civil rights. Alleged grants (e.g. FAFSA) have their specific audit and disclosure (Clery) requirements which the grantee failed to comply with, and such noncompliance resulted directly in the abuse of students' rights. Given the multiplicity of victims, it was reported as a pattern of not only grant abuse, but also civil rights infringement. Do I qualify for retaliation remedies? And qui tam awards?

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Attorney answers 1


These issues are not going to be satisfactorily addressed here. You need to consult with a skilled and experienced litigation attorney.

In general, you are conflating concepts of employment law with concepts of civil rights actions and that may not be legally sound and may not support the conclusions your intuition suggests. Talk with an experienced litigator. It is common (and has been legally approved) for schools to withhold transcripts as to students for whom there is an outstanding debt or dispute. But the devil is in the details and specifics, of course.

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