We have experience handling all types of whistleblower matters that arise in the employment arena. When an employee discloses or threatens to disclose perceived fraudulent, unsafe, or other illegal practices, any number of statutory and/or regulatory schemes may apply. We handle the following types of whistleblower claims:
- False Claims Act/Qui Tam First enacted in 1863 to stop rampant profiteering during the Civil War, the federal False Claims Act imposes liability on persons and companies who defraud the government or governmental programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. The states have enacted similar laws imposing liability for fraud against state governments and governmental programs. These laws contain “qui tam” provisions which allow private citizens to bring suit on behalf of the United States (or a state government) to recover monies owed to the government. As a reward, the whistleblower (called a “relator”) typically gets to keep a substantial percentage of amounts recovered.
- SEC Whistleblowers/Qui Tam The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act contains whistleblower provisions designed to reward the reporting of violations of federal securities laws. By limiting rewards only to those that provide “original information”—which requires that the information not be previously known to the SEC—potential whistleblowers are incentivized not to alert companies about the violation. Notably, a whistleblower is allowed to submit information to the SEC anonymously. In such cases, however, the whistleblower must be represented by counsel and the whistleblower’s identity must be disclosed to the SEC before an award is made, but need not be disclosed unless and until an award is made.
- IRS Whistleblowers/Qui Tam The Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006 created a whistleblower rewards program for individuals informing the IRS of tax fraud and other misconduct. The law provides monetary rewards in cases where the potential amount owed to the IRS by companies, in combination for back taxes, penalties, interest and additions to tax, exceeds $2 million.
- Whistleblower Retaliation Care must be exercised in handling whistleblower matters because these laws contain strong anti-relation provisions that are designed to prohibit employers, in part, from discharging, demoting, suspending, threatening, harassing, or discriminating against a whistleblower. If such conduct occurs, whistleblower laws generally provide for a private right of action for reinstatement, double back pay, and attorney’s fees.
The federal and state false claims acts apply in a wide array of situations involving an employer’s misuse of government funds or misleading of the government in order to obtain such funds. Typically, the subjects of false claims act litigation are federal contractors and health care institutions, and claims have involved fraud arising out of Medicare and Medicaid billings, military and defense contracting, part suppliers, environmental certifications, education grants, emergency relief programs, housing programs, and other government spending programs.