Whistleblower Laws: The False Claims Act
Author: Joshua Gittleman
Uploaded: Friday, October 15, 2021, 11:29 AM
Last Edited: Friday, October 15, 2021, 2:10 PM
Whistleblower laws are laws created to protect individuals who report a violation of the law by their employer. It is essential to note that most if not all whistleblower laws only protect employees if the specific procedures for reporting the wrongful violation are followed. If the specific procedures are not followed, whistleblowers may lose their rights or protections under the law.
One such whistleblower law is the federally enacted False Claims Act known as the “Lincoln Law” – a federal law that imposes liability on persons and companies who defraud governmental programs.
Who can bring a lawsuit under the False Claims Act (“FCA”)? The US Attorney General and private persons may bring a civil action under the FCA (31 USC § 3730). An action commenced by a private person is in the name of the government, and so the non-government person filing the suit is the qui tam plaintiff. Qui tam plaintiffs are generally employees or contractors of the defendant companies who have “blown the whistle” on the company’s activities. If brought by a non-government litigant, the government conducts an independent investigation to determine whether to file or intervene in an FCA suit.
Why would an employee bring a claim under the FCA? Well, it is in our society’s best interests that employers follow legal and safety regulations. But many employees are naturally unwilling to risk their job or livelihood to report unlawful violations by their employers. So the FCA includes provisions to encourage reporting.
First off, it prohibits retaliation against employees, contractors and agents who report, or act to stop, an FCA violation (31 USC § 3730(h)(1)). If retaliation, then a prevailing employee may be entitled to reinstatement with the same seniority status – and with twice the amount of back pay plus interest – and compensation for any special damages sustained due to the discrimination, including litigation costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees. (31 USC § 3730(h)(2)).
Secondly, a whistleblower who files the suit may recover a percentage award of the taxpayer money lost because of the wrongdoer’s fraud.
Do you need a Whistleblower Lawyer or want to know more information about Qui Tam Law and your rights under the False Claims Act? Then, contact DeToffol & Gittleman to review your evidence and outline actionable steps to protect your legal rights.