Marlton employment lawyers represent clients who want to “blow the whistle” and report that their employer or former employer is committing fraud against the federal government. This is a claim under the federal False Claims Act, also known as a Qui Tam action. It occurs when a company that works closely with the federal government has defrauded them in some form.
This is a serious matter and people who have the courage to bring a claim under the False Claims Act can be rewarded monetarily if the case is successful. This sort of case is not brought lightly since, if the plaintiff is found to be lying, there are heavily penalties and possibly jail time involved.
When bringing this sort of case, it is crucial that you select the right attorney since not many attorneys have experience in this area of law. Additionally, whistleblowers must have a multitude of accurate records. Attorneys who bring these types of cases will ask for as much evidence as you can provide to corroborate your statements. If you are not able to corroborate your accusations with documents, medical records, emails, or any other type of evidence, an attorney knowledgeable in this area of law may not be willing to bring your case even if they believe your facts are true. If the corroboration is not there, this type of cases can be risky for the plaintiff.
What is a Qui Tam Relator?
A qui tam relator is a whistleblower who reports fraud against the federal government under the U.S. False Claims Act. They initiate a qui tam lawsuit against the fraudulent party on behalf of the government. If the case is successful, the relator can receive a portion of the recovered funds as a reward for their efforts. This framework encourages individuals to report misconduct and helps in safeguarding government resources.
Understanding the Legal Protections for Whistleblowers
Being a whistleblower can indeed be a perilous journey. However, it is pivotal to recognize and understand that there are legal shields in place to protect individuals in qui tam cases under the federal False Claims Act. These laws are designed to safeguard whistleblowers from retaliatory actions such as wrongful termination, harassment, demotion, and other adverse employment consequences. Before you decide to blow the whistle, familiarize yourself with these legislations, as they can offer substantial protections.
Some of these protective measures include:
- Anonymity: Keeping the whistleblower’s identity confidential to protect them from potential backlash.
- Retaliation Remedies: Access to remedies such as reinstatement and back pay if there is retaliation from the employer.
- Protection against Discharge and Discrimination: Safeguarding employees from being discharged, demoted, suspended, or discriminated against due to whistleblowing.
Preparation for Potential Retaliation
Despite the legal protections in place, retaliation is a sad reality in many whistleblowing cases. It is sensible to anticipate and make preparations such as:
- Record Keeping: Keep an organized record of any unfavorable treatment you experience after reporting the fraud, which can be used as evidence in case of retaliation claims.
- Witness Statements: If possible, obtain statements from colleagues or other third parties who have witnessed the unfair treatment meted out to you.
- Keep Legal Options Open: Be prepared to take legal recourse swiftly in the event of evident retaliation.
Building a Strong Case
A well-built case not only leverages concrete evidence but also relies on the meticulous documentation of incidents and gathering corroborative testimony where possible.
Here are some strategies to build a resilient case:
- Detailed Diary: Maintain a detailed diary, noting down every suspicious incident, conversation, or meeting, with particulars such as dates, times, and involved parties.
- Corroborative Witnesses: Identify potential witnesses who can corroborate your statements and be willing to testify if needed.
- Attorney Consultations: Consult with a lawyer to understand the nuances of the law and gather evidence in a manner that adheres to legal requirements, ensuring the evidence is admissible in court.
Do Not Hesitate in Reporting Fraud
Only the first reporter is eligible for the award, so once you believe you have evidence of fraud, you must act quickly to report it to the state Attorney General’s office. Also, it is of utmost importance that you do not discuss your allegations with family and friends. Talking to an attorney who has extensive knowledge in this area of law should be the first contact you make regarding the fraud. If a person decides to first report the fraud to the company prior to consulting an attorney, they should not sign any document that is not first reviewed by an independent attorney.
The whistleblower must know that the process will be lengthy and trying at times. After you bring a claim, the government will want to conduct its own investigation, and this could take months or years. Additionally, even after an investigation is completed, the actual litigation could take an inordinate amount of time to wind through the court. Being a plaintiff in this type of case requires a certain amount of fortitude from you and your attorney.
Marlton Employment Lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. Represent Whistleblowers in Qui Tam Actions
Marlton employment lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. can thoroughly assess whistleblower cases that allege fraud against the federal government and advise you of the critical next steps. Reach out to one of our offices or contact us online today.