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What is a “whistleblower”?
A whistleblower is a person who discloses evidence of fraud against the government. Florida whistleblower lawyers can help you submit a claim and protect you. In order to submit a whistleblower claim (also called a qui tam claim), you must have knowledge that another party:
- Knowingly submitted a false claim for payment to the government
- Altered records involved in receiving payment from the government
- Conspired to have a false claim paid out by the government
- Concealed, avoided, or diminished their obligation to pay the government by altering or falsifying statements
If you are aware of this type of activity being committed by your employer or another entity, you can file a case on behalf of the government to recover the taxpayer funds that have been stolen through fraud. After an investigation, the government will decide whether or not to join your case. Even if the government decides not to join, you and your attorney can proceed with the case alone.
Can my employer fire me if I file a whistleblower claim?
The Federal False Claims Act protects whistleblowers from demotion, harassment, wrongful termination, and discrimination. This protection also covers any individual who testifies, investigates, or assists in a qui tam lawsuit.
If you suffer a reprisal, the government can either order your employer to re-hire you, or compensate you for lost income and benefits.
Why doesn’t the government bring forward whistleblower actions?
The laws that govern qui tam lawsuits are designed to encourage private individuals with unique information to come forward and disclose that information. The government cannot uncover every instance of fraud by itself; private parties are usually more privy to fraudulent activity. The government depends on these parties to expose fraud, thereby discouraging other parties from committing it. Once a qui tam action is brought forward, the government will have the opportunity to participate.
Are whistleblower lawsuits effective?
The U.S. Department of Justice has recovered billions of dollars to date in qui tam lawsuits. Most of this recovery has come from claims relating to healthcare and defense contract fraud.
How much compensation can I expect if my qui tam case is successful?
The Federal False Claims Act provides a considerable monetary incentive to private parties (“relators”) who bring forward whistleblower lawsuits. If you initiate a successful qui tam action, the exact amount you will receive will depend on the case’s circumstances:
- 25-30% if the government did not join your case
- 15-25% if the government did join your case
- 10% or less if the government joined your action, but most of the relevant information you provided was publicly available
- A reduced amount of compensation if you planned or initiated the false claims that were the basis of the qui tam case. If you are convicted of a crime related to the false claims, you will not receive anything.
If you live in Florida and have further questions about whistleblower (qui tam) actions, please contact contact Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter through our online form or by calling (855) 880-4741 today for a free and confidential case evaluation.