The lure of lucrative government contracts in the multibillion dollar defense contracting industry, combined with the lives and taxpayer dollars at stake in the performance of those contracts, necessitates whistleblower protections for defense contractors and their employees. The National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 (“NDAA”) included powerful whistleblower protections for defense contractors. Previously, defense contractor employees were left to rely on a patchwork of laws for protection from whistleblower retaliation, including the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (“SOX”) in the case of financial fraud at publicly traded companies and the False Claims Act (“FCA”) in cases of fraud against the federal government. Now, employees of defense contractors have a bill written specifically for them which should help to minimize retaliation in the future and make employees whole who suffer retaliation now.
What Whistleblowing Activities Are Protected?
The NDAA permanently covers all employees of Defense Department contractors, subcontractors or grant recipients, and covers the same universe for all other non-intelligence community contracts or grants. The NDAA whistleblower protection provisions state that employees of defense contractors are protected from retaliation for providing information that the employee reasonably believes constitutes evidence of illegality, gross waste, gross mismanagement, abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety. The legislation also extends those protections to whistleblowers who were retaliated against by a contractor at the government’s direction. The NDAA protects whistleblowers whether they report their concerns internally or to an appropriate government agency. In many cases of reporting fraud against the government, whistleblowers may be entitled to a reward entitling them to up to 30 percent of any government recovery that comes as a result of their reporting.
What Is The Litigation Process?
If an employee feels she has been retaliated against, who can file a retaliation complaint with the relevant agency’s Office of Inspector General (“OIG”), which then must conduct an investigation and make recommendations to the respective agency head. If you were retaliated against some time ago and are concerned that you’ve missed your opportunity to file suit, fear not – the statute of limitations to file a retaliation claim under the NDAA is three full years.
Like with other whistleblower statutes, if the agency head has not provided the requested relief within 210 days, the whistleblower may go to federal district court for de novo proceedings and have the case decided through a jury trial. If a whistleblower disagrees with an agency ruling, she can appeal the ruling to the appropriate circuit court. Whistleblowers who win are entitled to relief making them “whole,” including compensatory damages without caps.
How Do I Decide Whether And How To Report Unlawful Conduct?
Whether to report concerns about a defense contractor’s misconduct — and, if so, when, how and to whom — can be a very difficult decision for an employee, as blowing the whistle on an employer’s unlawful practices can be a career-ending move. However, the laws protecting defense contractor whistleblowers provide strong legal protections, and employees who raise these concerns can look to a number of resources for assistance. If you are thinking about reporting such concerns, or if you already have and are facing retaliation, contact the experienced whistleblower lawyers at Katz Banks Kumin for an evaluation of your whistleblower case with no further obligation.