Find Out How Whistleblowers are Protected Under the False Claims Act
The term “whistleblower” is taken from the phrase “to blow the whistle” and pertains to a referee or a police officer who blew a whistle in the event of a foul or illegal act. In business this equates to any individual or individuals who will alert the relevant government officials of any improper conduct or fraudulent activity within or by a company.
Being a whistleblower can be a hard decision to make, but it is the right thing to do if you know that your company is committing fraud. It is important to get a knowledgeable whistleblower attorney on your side to take your case and advise you on how best to proceed. The Law Offices of David H. Greenberg takes cases from all 50 States. Call us toll free at 1-888-204-1014 for a free consultation. There are also many laws in place that not only protect whistleblowers, but also reward them. They include the False Claims Act, Qui Tam laws, the Dodd Frank Act and the Whistleblower Protection Act.
False Claims Act
What types of activities merit whistleblowing? The False Claims Act covers a myriad of types of fraud that are considered illegal. They include:
- Falsifying certifications or requirements to get drugs passed or win contracts
- Charging for any goods or services not included the contract
- Recommending or performing unnecessary medical procedures for reimbursement
- Double billing
- Charging prices for brand drugs when generic drugs are delivered
- Reverse false claims- not returning money when the government overpays
- Falsifying a physician's signature in order to claim reimbursement for Medicaid or Medicare
- Charging for goods or services that are never delivered
- Delivering sub-standard equipment or supplies
- Charging for tests and work that have never been performed
- Creating phantom employees and doctoring time slips
- Using kickback or bribes to sell product, services or win contracts
Qui Tam Laws
Under most US state federal statutes, any fraud committed against the government such as Medicare fraud, tax fraud or defense fraud can be brought about by any individual who has knowledge of the felony. As a result of this they can file a claim on behalf of the government. If they are deemed successful then they are entitled to receive a percentage of the reward. This is known as the qui tam law after the Latin phrase Qui tam pro domino rege quam prose ipso in hac parte sequitir which means “he who sues for the king, does so also as a matter for himself”. Qui tam laws aren't always easy to prove and it is important that anybody who finds themselves in this situation hires a qui tam attorney who is well versed in dealing with such situations. In some cases governmental departments will intervene and help with the case on your behalf, and statistics have proven that when this happens the plaintiff will stand a far greater chance of winning their case. Therefore it is vital that you choose a representing attorney who is able to convince the government that your case is worth taking on.
Wall Street and the Dodd Frank Act
After the near collapse of the entire US banking system back in 2008, President Obama passed the Dodd Frank Act. This law goes one step further from the old 'qui tam' law that has been in place for a little shy of 150 years in that not only does it give very strong incentives to whistleblowers, but measures are put in place which give the whistleblower complete anonymity while the investigation is under way. It includes employees in public companies as well as those who are in private subsidiaries.
On top of the incentivized activities of the government which are used to help fight the alarming increase of fraud, the law also puts in place protection provisions for whistleblowers. This means that they can be legally protected against any reprisal or retaliation, such as termination from their employment, suspension, demotion, threats or harassment. If this happens then whistle blowers immediately have grounds for recourse. For example if a person was found to have been terminated because of their whistle blowing activities then they could file a claim for damages which could cover loss of wages, emotional and traumatic damages from losing their job and re-instatement of their position within the company (if they so desire).
Laws concerning whistleblowing in the United States are extremely complex and are in some cases, a patchwork of contradictory statutes depending upon which state you reside in. For example you have the Whistleblower Protection Act which is known as the WPA and this was put in place in 1989 and designed to protect whistle blowers who work within federal agencies. However there are certain federal departments in which this law doesn't protect and depending upon which state you are in it determines who is and who is not covered under the WPA. Also filing a legitimate complaint for retaliation differs tremendously from state to state and who you work for. For example, a retaliation complaint in the State of Arizona has to be filed within 10 days to the Arizona State Personnel Board if it is to be valid, whereas private sector employees have either 180 days or 300 days to report their retaliation claims to the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission. And just to make things even more complicated, an environmental whistleblower has 30 days to lodge a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) but the same governing body gives leverage of 45 days if you are an airline worker or corporate fraud whistleblower.
So how can you sort out all of the complicated laws? The truth is that you can’t- you’ll need to call an experienced attorney and tell them the specifics of your situation. It is better not to wait as there is a statute of limitations which means that the clock is ticking on your case, and if you don’t file in the time allotted, then the case is no longer valid.
Whistleblowing in the military
Even in the military you can blow the whistle without fear of reprisal as you are covered by the Military Whistleblower Protection Act. This allows any member of the armed forces who suspects foul play such as fraud or false defense claims to go straight to an attorney or their member of congress without having to go through their chain of command and report the issue. In return whilst the investigation is carried out they will be allowed protective status. Again this means that an employer cannot terminate, demote, threaten or harass any member of the armed forces who has reported an issue.
Types of Whistle Blowers
Whistleblowers are a very special group of people to the effect that they will stand up and do what's right while many of us would simply turn a blind eye. And many people do not realize that when a company defrauds the government, they are actually defrauding the American taxpayers. This causes taxes to be raised, and in the end it is the common person who pays the price for fraud.
- Internal Whistleblower
It is fair to say that the majority of whistle blowers are classed as internal which means that they will report any serious breach of misconduct or negligence that is happening within their company to their superiors through the chain of command. In many companies nowadays there is a complaints system in place whereby people can report unacceptable behavior with near confidentiality which in turn makes it easier for anyone who is unwilling to simply turn a blind eye.
- External Whistle Blower
The other type of whistleblower is one who has information of gross negligence by a company such as false accounting, mismanagement of funds or plain fraud and reports it to an outside agency. These are known as external whistleblowers. Depending heavily upon the severity of the information that the person has on the company, they may be looking at reporting the case to lawyers, watchdog agencies, law enforcement agencies or even the media especially if it's fraud directly against the government. In cases such as these, the government offers strong incentives for people to become a whistleblower.
So what can you do if you have information of fraudulent activity?
The best thing you can to is to call and talk to an attorney with knowledge in this area. You can call and ask for David Greenberg directly at 1-888-204-1014. Tell him the specifics surrounding your concerns and learn whether or not you have a case, and what your next steps should be. This is a time to get expertise on your side, not to go it alone.
- Becoming A Whistleblower: Do You Have The Courage Of Your Convictions?
- Being A Whistle Blower Is A Way To Keep The World A Safer Place
- Why There's Every Reason For Pregnant Women to Become Whistleblowers
- What is a whistleblower – Is it just a form of tell tale?
- Whistleblowers Have Helped the IRS To Recover Millions