A Whistleblower is defined as someone with insider knowledge of illegal action or wrongdoing that defrauds or harms another person or entity and chooses to come forward to expose said corporation, government or other entity in the name of justice.
Many whistleblowers are fearful of losing their job or being harassed but several programs have been put in place by the Occupational Safety Health Administration (OHSA) and the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) to protect whistleblowers from retaliation and to protect their livelihood and families during and process.
The Government and Whistleblower/Qui Tam
Qui Tam allows private citizens the right to bring a lawsuit on behalf of the government in an effort to recover losses and fraud against the government. The law intends to protect and persuade individuals to come forward with information of fraudulent activities or false claims being committed against the government which is stealing from taxpayers.
The term “Qui Tam” comes from the Latin phrase that means, “Who sues on behalf of the King as well as for himself.”
The False Claims Act
Under the False Claims Act (FCA) whistle blowers are awarded a share of the monies recovered, but a number of factors can impact the precise share in any given case. Although no precise formula is applied in every case, the more that a whistleblower and his/her counsel contributes throughout the case the greater the chances are that the whistleblower will be able to advocate for receiving a larger share of the government’s recovery. This provision encourages people to come forward to help the government reduce such things as Medicare fraud.
Defendants found violating the False Claims Act are required to pay up to three times the amount of damages sustained by the government as well as civil penalties. Additionally, these damages and penalties can trigger a host of potential collateral consequences from defendants that included but aren’t limited to such things as disqualification from future state and government contracts.
The whistleblowers reward is calculated based on the amount recovered by the government and not by the actual loss. This Act further protects the whistleblower from being demoted, harassed or terminated from their employment.
Several factors are considered regarding the amount of money a whistle-blower can receive if the government recovers money from the defendant. If the government joins the case, the person may be entitled to at least 15 percent, not to exceed 25 percent of the amount recovered. In cases where the government declines joining the case, the whistleblower would be entitled to at least 25 percent, not to exceed 30 percent of the amount recovered by the government.
Do I have a Whistleblower Claim?
It can often be hard to discern if you have a case, thereby the best way is to discuss the information with an experienced whistleblower lawyer that is experienced in handling cases that involve the False Claims Act and whistleblower qui tam and other cases of fraud.
In some cases where more than one whistleblower is involved it is important to try and be the first to file a claim due to distinct advantages for the earliest claimant.
This post touches on the basics of a whistleblower case, for more detailed information watch the video above. If you have a possible whistleblower action or think you might be eligible to join one in progress, contact Sheller, P.C., immediately to learn your rights and protect you and your family personally, professionally, and financially. No case is too small.