We all go to work with the idea that our employer, colleagues, and other companies that we collaborate with are law-abiding citizens with the same strong sense of morals and ethics that we have, but occasionally an employee may become aware of laws or regulations being violated to the detriment of the public, or the government, or both. When this type of situation arises, citizens have the right to file what is known as a whistleblower or qui tam lawsuit, calling attention to the wrongdoing and possibly receiving compensation for their courage and dedication to protecting the public good.
There are a number of different situations where whistleblower lawsuits may be filed. Those that are filed under the False Claims Act include:
- Knowingly billing the government for a false or fraudulent claim
- Knowingly making false statements or presenting false records to the government for payment
- Conspiracy to have a false or fraudulent claim to be paid
- Knowingly using false records or fraudulent statements to avoid having to pay the government
Other whistleblower cases may involve environmental issues, financial issues, safety issues and more. There is a specific process that needs to be filed in whistleblower cases. The complaint is filed under seal in federal district court and a copy detailing evidence is sent to the US Attorney General, as well as the US Attorney for the district where the complains is filed. The entire process is confidential until it is unsealed and is not served to the defendant. The government will assess the case and determine whether they wish to pursue it or not. This process may take a long time.
Those who are aware of False Claims Act violations are urged to act quickly upon their knowledge, as the law requires that only the first person to report a crime is entitled to compensation, and there is a statute of limitations for filing a suit. If found guilty, the defendant can be required to pay three times the dollar amount that the government was defrauded of, as well as civil penalties of $5,000 to $10,000 for each false claim. The person who files the whistleblower lawsuit is eligible to receive between fifteen and thirty percent of the total recovery.
If you know that laws are being broken and are considering filing a whistleblower lawsuit, the law provides you with very specific protections against retaliation by your employer. Filing a whistleblower claim is considered a protected activity, although different violations have different rules with this regard. Generally speaking, you are protected if you file a grievance, contact the media, refuse to participate in illegal activities or take any kind of stand against violations of the law. If you are considering filing a whistleblower lawsuit and need more information, call the experienced whistleblower attorneys at Bochetto & Lentz today. We have successfully represented many whistleblowers, protecting their rights and getting them the maximum compensation for their efforts.
Learn more about being a Whistleblower here – http://bochettoandlentz.com/practice-areas/whistleblower-lawyer-whistleblower-claim/