When you took your job, you most likely thought that the organization was acting in good faith when it comes to its billing practices. You had no reason to question this — at first.
As you continued to do your job, you noticed that something just wasn’t right. Perhaps you discovered irregularities in the company’s billings to the federal government. Now, you feel as though you need to tell someone, but you aren’t sure where to turn.
The False Claims Act
The False Claims Act was passed in order to bring fraud against the federal government to light. It allows someone with knowledge of fraud, like you, to file a “qui tam” lawsuit against the company believed to be engaging in it. If you file such a lawsuit, you must inform the U.S. Department of Justice and provide it with all the information you have regarding the wrongdoing. At this point, the DOJ may take over your lawsuit.
If the DOJ does take over your lawsuit, you have the right to anywhere from 15% to 25% of any monies recovered. If the agency decides not to take over your claim, then you could receive anywhere from 25% to 30% of any recovery resulting from it. Depending on the circumstances, this could mean a substantial windfall for you.
Do you have the right to file a claim?
In order to have standing to file a qui tam lawsuit, you must have direct knowledge of the fraud if the information is part of the public record. However, if the information is not public, then you only need indirect knowledge of the fraud. For instance, if you heard about the alleged fraud from a coworker, but the information is not public, you qualify as a qui tam plaintiff.
Does the Act protect you from retaliation?
One reason why you and some others may hesitate to come forward is due to the potential for retaliation from your employer. The Act provides protections to whistleblowers from the following retaliatory actions:
- Other forms of discrimination
The Act’s protections may not keep any of the above actions from occurring, but they do give you an avenue to pursue monetary and non-monetary compensation. Without a doubt, coming forward with allegations of fraud against your employer could have repercussions, but that does not mean it isn’t the right thing to do. If you suspect your employer of fraud against the government, it would be beneficial for you to first discuss the situation with an experienced attorney here in Atlanta in order to gain a complete understanding of your rights and responsibilities in this type of matter. Having a knowledgeable advocate at your side could help make the process less stressful and more successful.