A whistleblower is an individual who reports fraud, abuse, corruption, waste, or dangers to the public at the hands of an individual or organization. In most cases, the whistleblower works for the company where the wrongdoing is occurring. However, it does not only stem from direct insiders. In fact, any individual can report wrongdoing if it would otherwise remain unknown.
Federal and state law protects New York whistleblowers from retaliation in the workplace. These laws include:
- New York False Claims Act: “Authorizes citizens to bring lawsuits to recover treble (or triple) damages for fraudulent claims submitted to the City.” As an incentive, those who bring about suits may, in certain circumstances, can keep as much as 30% of the funds recovered.
- Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002: Mandated reform to security regulations, and protected investors from fraudulent financial reporting by corporations.
- Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989: Protects Federal employees and applicants for employment who lawfully disclose information about violations of law, abuse of authority, and dangers to public health and safety.
- The New York State Labor Law: Protects employees who report a violation that either “creates and presents a substantial and specific danger to the public health or safety, or…constitutes health care fraud.”
- False Claims Act: Federal law that provides rewards for whistleblowers who, under the Act, report fraud in federal government contracts and programs.
How to File a New York Qui Tam Lawsuit: Whistleblowers
Under the False Claims Act, qui tam lawsuits are a form of whistleblower claims. The False Claims Act defined qui tam cases as those involving private individuals who assist the government in prosecuting whistleblower cases. If successful, the individual, known as the realtor, can receive a portion of the funds recovered.
To file a qui tam case, the False Claims Act requires the use of a whistleblower attorney to organize the formal complaint. This formal complaint should list the violations the whistleblower has experienced or knows of. Qui tam lawsuits can be based on violation by an entity that:
- Makes false or fraudulent claims for payment or approval. This is only when the company makes false or fraudulent claims knowingly making or using a false record or statement of obligation to pay/transmit money or property to the government.
- Knowingly conceals or avoids or decreases an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the government.
Finding a qui tam lawyer in New York is difficult for many people. This is because lawyers must follow the Act’s very specific requirements to the letter. After filing the qui tam case, the government will investigate and determine whether it is time to intervene in the case.
What Does the Government Do in Qui Tam Whistleblower Cases?
The government seals the qui tam case for 60 days while they conduct an investigation. Though, the government only intervenes in a small percentage of cases they receive each year. Once the government does intervene, it assumes control of the case. It does so with the participation of the whistleblower and their New York qui tam attorney.
Should the government decline the case, the whistleblower and their attorney can continue the case.
Guilty defendants can be liable to pay losses up to three times the total amount. However, most cases will settle in negotiations and not go to a trial court.
Rewards for Qui Tam Whistleblowers
When qui tam whistleblowers are successful, they may earn 15 to 25 percent of the amount collected by the government. If the government did not intervene, the reward grows to 25 to 30 percent of the amount collected.
The exact reward can depend on the quality of the information provided and the amount of work the whistleblower and their attorney put into the case.
Does the law protect Whistleblowers from retaliation?
When you are a whistleblower, you may fear retaliation. While termination is often the biggest consequence, there are other forms of retaliation for whistleblowing you may face, including:
- Suspended employment
- Bad performance review
- Creation of a hostile work environment
- Reduction in hours, wages, and benefits
- Reduction in job duties and responsibilities
- Any other adverse employment action
However, the law legally protects you while you’re filing a qui tam case. Under the False Claims Act, it is illegal to retaliate against those who report violations. These protections extend to independent contractors and agents. In addition, the Act offers relief for certain employees victimized by the defendant. This includes any employees the company discharged or discriminated against for their involvement in a qui tam case.
FAQs for Whistleblower Qui Tam Lawsuit
1. Why Should I Report Fraud?
When you come across fraud in the workplace, deciding to report it can be difficult. However, it is the right thing to do. Fraud can effectively take a toll on the company, triggering problems such as reduced profits, delayed payroll, and increased stress. It is crucial to nip it in the bud and bring the perpetrators to justice.
Additionally, initiating a qui tam lawsuit to expose fraud or other illegal acts can result in financial rewards. You may be applauded and compensated for your courage. Plus, there are laws to protect you from retaliation, so you can file a legal complaint without fear.
2. What Kind of Evidence Does a Whistleblower Need?
When you want to report unlawful misconduct, the first thing you must do is gather evidence. Documentary evidence helps corroborate your claims in front of legal authorities. Although the nature of the proof will vary based on the industry, it must establish:
- The fraudulent party’s intent to defraud the organization
- The extent and impact of their actions
However, you must be careful about which documents you choose to present as evidence. Depending on the broader context, you may break the law by removing paperwork from the workplace, such as information protected by HIPAA. Be sure to consult your attorney before taking any action.
3. What Will a Whistleblower Attorney Do?
When you’re trying to expose a superior’s wrongdoings, you need adequate legal counsel in your corner. A whistleblower attorney will:
- Evaluate your claim: The first thing a whistleblower lawyer will do is survey the evidence you have and offer additional advice.
- Submit information: The next step will vary based on the nature of your case. If yours is a qui tam lawsuit, a lawyer will file a claim in federal court detailing how the company is defrauding the government.
- Persuade the government: In most instances, your lawsuit will be more successful if the government gets involved. A whistleblower attorney will compose your case in a way that will convince the government to join your side.
Contact The New York City Whistleblower, Qui Tam Attorneys Today
When you see injustice happening against the government, you should feel safe reporting these wrongs. But when you don’t know where to begin, you need a whistleblower claims attorney to guide you through the process.
If you have a whistleblower claim in New York City or New York State, call the NYC whistleblower lawyers of Brown Kwon & Lam, LLP today.