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Whistleblower Law

Did You Know?

It has been estimated that almost 10 percent of the United States' annual budget is paid either to companies or to persons who are defrauding the government

A "Whistleblower" is an employee who reports a violation of the law by his or her employer. The federal government and many states have laws protecting whistleblowers from retaliation; in addition, most states recognize a common-law claim against an employer who takes action against an employee after he or she has reported a violation of law.

The False Claim Act is a federal statute that encourages people with knowledge about fraud against the U.S. government to report the fraud. The Act allows these " whistleblowers " to sue the wrongdoer on behalf of the government.

Every year our Government spends trillions of dollars on services provided by private entities including defense contractors, transportation companies, hospitals, nursing homes, pharmaceutical companies, and doctors.  Laws exist to make sure that our Government is getting the products and services that it pays for and is not being cheated.  Unfortunately, history has shown that contractor fraud, including Medicaid and Medicare fraud, has cost our Government (and, thus, the taxpayers) billions of dollars. 

Types of fraud situations that may trigger the Act:

Healthcare fraud and over billing.

Contract bidding, where a potential recipient of a bid offers kickbacks to insure that the bid is accepted.

False billing claims in which the government is charged for undelivered goods or overcharged for the actual goods delivered.

False negotiation claims, where a party in negotiation with the United States uses false statements or illegal actions throughout the process.

Substandard product and service claims where government suppliers provide inferior substitutes in place of the goods or services that were contracted for.

Employer Retaliation

In 1986, Congress added anti-retaliation protections to the False Claims Act. These provisions, which did not exist previously, are contained in 31 U.S.C. § 3730(h):

Any employee who is discharged, demoted, suspended, threatened, harassed, or in any other manner discriminated against in the terms and conditions of employment by his or her employer because of lawful acts done by the employee on behalf of his employer or others in furtherance of an action under this section, including investigation for, initiation of, testimony for, or assistance in an action filed or to be filed under this section, shall be entitled to all relief necessary to make the employee whole.

The protection against retaliation extends to whistleblowers whose allegations could legitimately support a False Claims Act case even if the case is never filed. The statute of limitations for § 3730(h) claims is 6 years in most jurisdictions, but is currently shorter in and a few other locations.

An Employee, who feels that he or she has been retaliated against for making a complaint, must bring a complaint to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration within thirty days of the retaliatory action. The employee is then protected even if the employer is ultimately found to be in compliance. An employer may not fire an employee for reporting violations, or for participating in any investigation or hearing involving violations in the workplace.


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