Employees usually expect that the companies that hire them know and comply with federal and state laws. However, some businesses put turning a profit above everything else. They may engage in illegal business practices.
Although most forms of business fraud affect other companies or members of the public, some forms of business fraud affect the federal government. Healthcare providers submitting duplicate or fake claims on behalf of a patient with government insurance or railroad companies charging for maintenance but they have not performed are among the most common ways that business fraud could affect the government.
Under the False Claims Act, employees to notice illegal billing practices can act as whistleblowers. These workers will have protection from retaliation and may also receive compensation for a successful claim.
All whistleblowers have federal protection
If you speak up about a violation of workplace safety laws, the False Claims Act or federal anti-discrimination laws, you become a whistleblower. Whistleblowers have federal protection against retaliation or punishment from their employer. Your decision to speak up about some kind of misconduct or fraud at your workplace should not result in any punitive actions by your employer.
Reporting isn’t always the only option
Many whistleblowers simply submit evidence or prompt an investigation with a federal regulatory agency. However, investigations can be slow and often lead nowhere.
Someone with compelling evidence of fraudulent billing practices can file a qui tam lawsuit on behalf of the government. By doing so, they become a relator. They take their lawsuit to court and show how their employer has violated the law. If the lawsuit results in a judgment or settlement that benefits the government, the relator who brought the initial claim can ask for compensation.
The government rewards whistleblowers financially
In 2020, False Claims Act enforcement resulted in $2.2 billion in both court judgments and out-of-court settlements in favor of the government. A significant portion of those successful settlements and judgments were the result of qui tam claims brought by workers for those companies.
Those qui tam lawsuits results in $1.6 billion in judgments and settlements, and the federal government paid $309 million to relators who filed the initial lawsuits. Someone who brings a successful qui tam claim can receive a small percentage of the amount recovered.
Reviewing the situation at your company and the documentation you have gathered can help you determine whether you are currently in a position to initiate a qui tam lawsuit against an employer violating the False Claims Act.