U.S. businesses are required to follow and abide by various legal rules and regulations. Many of the laws that govern U.S. business activities are in place to protect consumers and the environment. Additionally, regulatory measures have been enacted to ensure for the safety and wellbeing of employees as well as to safeguard against unfair and deceptive business practices.
These laws help govern fair business practices between businesses and vendors, business partners and government contracts. In cases where an employee discovers that his or her employer is engaging in business practices and acts in an attempt to defraud the U.S. government, it’s important to seek legal advice.
Employees who bravely come forward to report that an employer is defrauding the U.S. government are likely to have several reservations and fears about doing so. Such feelings are warranted as an employer may take action to demote, fire or otherwise punish an employee. However, these types of retaliatory actions are illegal and strictly forbidden under federal whistleblower protection laws.
Specifically, the False Claims Act protects whistleblowers who either testify on behalf of the government in or who pursue their own qui tam lawsuit against an employer. In cases were a qui tam lawsuit is successful, an individual may be entitled to a share of up to 30 percent of the total settlement award.
Due to the often highly sensitive nature of whistleblower and qui tam claims, employees who have knowledge of an employer’s illegal activities are advised to secure legal counsel. This area of practice is highly specialized and it’s important to select an attorney who has successfully handled previous qui tam claims.
Source: FindLaw.com, “Whistleblower Protections in Qui Tam Actions,” June 17, 2015
Cornell University Law School, “False Claims Act,” June 17, 2015