Whistleblower Protection: The False Claims Act (FCA)
The False Claims Act (FCA) was passed by the United States Congress to ensure that federal officials had a means to prosecute companies, mostly contractors, that defrauded the government in some manner. Notably, the False Claims Act has one of the very strongest whistleblower protection provisions in all of American law. Here, our top-rated West Palm Beach employment law attorneys answer some frequently asked question that whistleblowers have about this federal legislation.
What Constitutes a Violation under the False Claims Act?
FCA violations come in a wide variety of forms. In fact, any type of fraud committed against the government will likely qualify as a legal violation under the act. It may be that a company submitted a false claim for payment directly to a government agency, or it may be that a company used false information to avoid paying money back to the government. Regardless, if the government was illegitimately denied or defrauded of funds, the responsible company may have committed a False Claims Act violation.
Who is Eligible to Bring a Qui Tam Claim?
Any person can bring a qui tam lawsuit. If you have information that indicates that a private company is defrauding the government in some manner, you can bring a claim to disclose that information. While most often insider employees are the people who have this information, you do not have to be an employee to bring a whistleblower claim. For example, you could be an independent contractor or you could be connected to the company committing the fraud in some other way.
What Type of Award is Available to Whistleblowers?
If you file a qui tam lawsuit, and the government is able to recover money because of the information that you provided, you are eligible for a financial award. To be clear, you must provide unique, independent information that can be used by federal prosecutors. Your award can between 15 percent and 30 percent of the total money collected from the defendant. There are many different factors that will go into determining the specific percentage that a whistleblower is awarded.
What Legal Protections Do Whistleblower Have Under the FCA?
Employers are legally prohibited from taking any type of adverse action against an employee who engaged in whistleblowing behavior under the False Claims Act. This means that an employee cannot be terminated, demoted, denied an opportunity or mistreated in any other way on the grounds that they made a protected disclosure. If your rights have been violated, you are entitled to reinstatement and compensation for the full value of your damages, potentially including double back pay.
Contact Our Office Today
At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our Florida employment law attorneys have extensive experience handling whistleblower cases. To learn more about what we can do for you, please contact us today to set up your no-cost case evaluation. We have offices in West Palm Beach, Wellington and Miami, and we both employers and employees throughout Southeast Florida, including in Homestead, Fort Lauderdale and Coral Springs.