Whistleblowers often face retaliation for reporting their concerns, whether to government regulators, internal compliance systems, or their supervisors. Retaliation can take many forms, including: demotion, being fired, unwarranted disciplinary actions, reduction in pay or hours, being blacklisted so it is impossible to find another job, etc.
The False Claims Act (“FCA”) prohibits individuals and companies from defrauding the federal government. It rewards whistleblowers who provide information about fraud against the government (see False Claim Act Whistleblower Incentives) and protects whistleblowers from retaliation after they report their concerns.
We discuss on our Qui Tam page the type of lawsuit that a whistleblower may bring under the FCA, called a qui tam lawsuit. In short, the FCA allows whistleblowers to report fraud on behalf of the United States government and then receive a share of the recovered funds. Whistleblowers perform a crucial public service on behalf of all taxpayers when they report and oppose fraud. Many fraudulent schemes that violate the FCA involve a high volume of claims, sometimes amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars of fraud affecting taxpayer monies.
But whistleblowers take on great risk: blowing the whistle may put the whistleblower’s career at risk. Luckily, in addition to the financial incentives provided to whistleblowers under the FCA, the Act makes it illegal for employers to retaliate against employees who have opposed certain fraudulent activities.
Who is protected by the FCA retaliation provision?
The FCA protects whistleblowers who file a qui tam lawsuit or who object to fraud against the government. Specifically, the law protects employees, contractors, and agents, as well as “associated others” who take actions “in furtherance of” a qui tam action or actions to stop one or more violations of the Act.
This means that if someone takes steps towards filing a qui tam lawsuit, but has not yet filed, for example reporting or sharing their concerns with a supervisor or internal compliance process, and then experiences retaliation, that whistleblower may be eligible for the FCA retaliation protections. Investigatory efforts short of filing suit may also constitute protected activity for purposes of the anti-retaliation provision. And if someone does file a qui tam lawsuit, and then experiences retaliation, that whistleblower may be eligible for the FCA retaliation protections.
Whistleblowers who report fraud and securities wrongdoing to the Securities Exchange Commission (“SEC”) or Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) are protected under different whistleblower protections such as the Dodd Frank Act and Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Please check out our other whistleblower pages for more information on available protections for other types of whistleblowers.
What qualifies as retaliation under the FCA?
The anti-retaliation provision of the False Claims Act protects employees, contractors and other agents of an employer from being retaliated against. The law says that if the individual is “discharged, demoted, suspended, threatened, harassed, or in any other manner discriminated against in the terms and conditions of employment,” that individual can seek compensation.
How much time do FCA whistleblowers who have experienced retaliation have to file?
FCA whistleblowers who have experienced retaliation have three years from the date of retaliation to file a civil action. Whistleblowers who have experienced workplace retaliation related to taking steps in furtherance of an FCA action or objecting to fraud against the government should seek the advice of a whistleblower attorney.
What remedies are available to whistleblowers who have experienced retaliation?
The False Claims Act broadly states that whistleblowers are entitled to “all relief necessary to make [them]…whole.” This can include: reinstatement with the same seniority status that employee, contractor, or agent would have had but for the retaliation; two times the amount of back pay and interest on the back pay; and compensation for any special damages sustained as a result of the retaliation, including litigation costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees. Compensatory damages are also available for emotional distress.
Why hire Katz Banks Kumin for your False Claims Act retaliation case?
At Katz Banks Kumin, we are experienced in handling retaliation claims and have expertise in understanding complex fraudulent schemes against the federal government. Drawing on years of experience in employment negotiation and litigation, we strive for resolution of our clients’ retaliation claims that brings closure to a stressful ordeal and, where possible, allows for positive movement forward in their careers. If you have faced retaliation for investigating, opposing, or reporting the fraudulent activity of your employer, contact the experienced whistleblower lawyers at Katz Banks Kumin. Your communications with us are confidential and without charge or further obligation.