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.
When an employee blows the whistle on an employer and files a qui tam lawsuit on behalf of the government, the government can choose whether or not to join the lawsuit. If the government investigates the case and decides not to join, the whistleblower can still go ahead with the lawsuit and, if successful, receive a percentage of any amount that is recovered.
In the workplace, technology has been credited with improving efficiency and in general making it easier for employees to communicate with superiors, colleagues and customers. Increasingly, however, many workplaces are using technologies like laptops, email and smartphones to exploit workers who are expected to essentially be on call and respond to work-related matters during the evenings and on the weekends.
Government customers of United Parcel Service Co. (UPS) overpaid the company because it falsified delivery records over a 10-year period, according to a lawsuit UPS recently settled. The whistleblower suit was filed by a former driver and manager for UPS. Now he is expected to receive $3.75 million for bringing the allegedly false claims to the attention of the federal government.
In 2007, a lawsuit was filed against energy giant Edison International, alleging that the company violated the Employees Retirement Income Securities Act of 1974 (ERISA) by offering employees higher-priced retail class mutual funds as retirement plan investments when what were basically the same funds could be had under lower-cost institutional shares. The class action against Edison was brought on behalf of about 20,000 employees and retirees.
For decades Hollywood studios have found creative and controversial ways of dividing profits among industry professionals. One specific area where actors, writers and directors have taken issue is in the division of profits from home video revenue.
Legal claims are highly procedural and time-sensitive. To be successful, claims must be correctly processed and contain sufficient evidence to move the claim forward. The federal government and the states also have various statutes of limitations for different kinds of claims, and if you are party to a legal dispute, then your lawyer should be abreast of the relevant procedural requirements and statutes of limitations when advising you on your case.
Since the mid-1980s, the federal False Claims Act has been the government's primary tool for fighting fraud against government programs, including Medicare and Medicaid. The law's qui tam provisions allow whistleblowers to bring lawsuits against companies and individuals that defraud the government, and whistleblowers have collectively received billions of dollars in rewards for blowing the whistle on fraud.
Dozens of federal and state laws offer protections to whistleblowers in a variety of industries. The False Claims Act, the Dodd-Frank Act and the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act (FIRREA) are just a few of those laws that allow for whistleblowers to receive a significant portion of any money recovered by the Department of Justice through settlement or judgment.
One way class action lawsuits are sometimes resolved is through a settlement. When a proposed settlement arises in a class action case, a decision comes before the different class members: whether to be a party to the settlement or to opt out.