When you find out that your employer has broken federal laws, you may worry about losing your job if you report the misbehavior to management or human resources. All too often, companies penalize not those who break the law but those who take action to stop the illegal behavior.
Workers fearing retaliation may not want to directly report misconduct to their employer. However, choosing not to report could mean that you have ethical and legal responsibility due to your knowledge. Therefore, taking action could serve to protect you and give you peace of mind.
If you work in an industry like medicine or railway transportation that bills the government for services rendered, you may be able to stand up to your employer’s unscrupulous behavior through a qui tam claim. How does a qui tam action work?
You take legal action on behalf of the government
In a qui tam action, you initiate legal proceedings because of something your employer did. Essentially, you file a lawsuit on behalf of the federal government because you have inside information about fraud. The False Claims Act empowers employees who work for companies that bill the government to bring such claims in civil court.
You will have to submit evidence of wrongdoing and meet the standard of evidence for civil cases, which is lower than the standard for criminal court. Provided that your claim is successful because you have documentation of the inappropriate billing activity, you receive compensation for a portion of the amount recovered through your lawsuit.
Additionally, because you acted as a whistleblower, you also have protection from retaliation by your employer and from criminal consequences due to the fraud. Initiating a qui tam claim can be complex, which means you may it’s best to get the help of an experienced attorney with this sometimes difficult process.