The False Claims Act was enacted to stop cases of fraud against the government, usually in healthcare or amongst government contractors to recover funds stolen and cheated from the US treasury and taxpayers. If you work for a public or private company and you suspect they are guilty of Medicare or Medicaid fraud, you may want to bring about a qui tam lawsuit - or whistleblower claim - to report the fraud to the appropriate bodies. Companies sometimes attempt to punish employees who uncover fraud, but it's not legal, so you may wonder, am I eligible for the whistleblower protection program?
The straight-forward answer is that, yes, most likely you're eligible for whistleblower protection. There are programs that protect whistleblowers from OSHA to the FCA to the SEC but all for different cases. The types of fraud can range from natural resource fraud to healthcare fraud to defense contractor fraud to pharmaceutical fraud to tax fraud and more.
The False Claims Act (FCA)
For Medicaid and Medicare fraud, the most commonly utilized whistleblower protection law is the False Claims Act, which has both federal and state versions. It covers whistleblower claims relating to corporate fraud or misconduct in cases where the government loses money as a result of that fraud and mismanagement of funds.
The FCA provides financial rewards for whistleblowers when the claims are successfully acted on by the government. The laws protect whistleblowers from retaliation as a result of reporting the misconduct - such as firing, demotion, or other negative employee actions.
How the Government Protects You
Since whistleblowing is prevalent, the government realized that whistleblowers are unfairly seen as disloyal to companies but are, instead, heroes, and - as a result - they wanted to put protections in place to encourage individuals who blow the whistle. Relators are legally entitled to continue their work without facing discrimination.
Can I File Anonymously?
Yes, there are many laws and procedures in place to protect a whistleblower's identify. You can file a claim anonymously and hire a lawyer to represent you in court. If the case is unsuccessful, the case can be dismissed before it has been made public. Your trusted attorney can organize, file, facilitate, and advocate the litigation all on your behalf.
What If I Want to Go Public?
You can do that too! If your identity is found out or you choose to go public with your case, laws are in place to prohibit retaliation against you. Any defendants acting against a qui tam relator risk civil penalties as well as a more strict enforcement of action for the misconduct. If you have suffered from company harassment, your legal representative can also sue the company separately. Restitution may include double back pay, reinstating your job position, reimbursing any expenses (including legal fees), and - sometimes - promotion.
Do I Need to File a Case to be Protected?
The answer here is no. You are protected under the False Claims Act even when discussing a case with an attorney or reporting fraud internally or externally, no matter which action you choose to take afterwards.
What Information Do I Need for a Case?
You'll want to consult with an attorney to see if you have a solid case first. It's important that you can back up your claim with insider knowledge and/or physical evidence of your claim. You may want to consider if the fraud is widespread. How long has it gone on? Does it involve large amounts of money? Do you have any documentation of fraud such as forged signatures or documents proving that medical treatments were incorrectly and knowingly upcoded, for example? Do you have any privileged information? Have you witnessed any illegal behavior within the workplace? Have you been forced to take part in any suspicious activity?
Filing a whistleblower lawsuit is a worthwhile pursuit, but can be risky; however, as you can see, there are many protections in place to ensure your safety. The best course of action is to get a trusted attorney on your side and document all items relating to your case.
Whistleblower Cases Have Time Limits! Contact Us Today.
Some laws dictate that you only have 30 days to file from the time fraud is suspected, and only the first whistleblower will get the reward for providing the information. Make sure you are the first to get to the case, and you could be eligible for thousands (or more) in compensation. Get all the information you need to submit a worthy case by downloading our free guide.
Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.