If you have observed fraud or misconduct against the government — often in the course of your employment — you may have heard of a Qui Tam lawsuit. You may be wondering what it is and how it may be able to help you report misconduct while still maintaining your job, career, and personal life. If you believe you have observed fraud against the government and are considering “blowing the whistle,” your best option is to consult with a qualified attorney with significant experience representing whistleblowers. In the meantime, however, here are a few frequently asked questions about Qui Tam lawsuits and the related False Claims Act:
- What is Qui Tam and the False Claims Act? “Qui Tam” lawsuits are filed by whistleblowers under the provisions of the False Claims Act. The False Claims Act is a federal law that creates civil liability against persons or businesses defrauding the government. Under the provisions of the False Claims Act, an individual, unrelated to the government (a “whistleblower”), is empowered to bring a lawsuit against a company or person committing fraud against the government. The whistleblower files the lawsuit on his or her own behalf, but also may “step into the shoes” of the government to pursue the claim.
- Can I recover money for blowing the whistle? Yes. One of the most important and interesting features of the False Claims Act is the ability of the whistleblower to recover a percentage of any damages awarded to the government. A whistleblower may receive anywhere from 15-25% of the money awarded during the lawsuit with the remainder going to the government to compensate for the fraud. Essentially, the False Claims Act rewards people for filing Qui Tam lawsuits if they discover fraud against the government.
- Will my job be protected if I file a lawsuit under the False Claims Act? Yes. The False Claims Act also offers protection to whistleblowers if they are retaliated against due to filing a Qui Tam lawsuit. If a whistleblower faces retaliation or termination he or she will be entitled to double damages, plus attorneys fees associated with any lawsuit related to the retaliation or termination. In this way, the False Claims Act severely penalizes employers for retaliation.
Reporting fraud against the government is especially important given the impact it may have on the lives of patients, in the case of healthcare fraud, soldiers, in the case of military contract fraud, or other vulnerable groups of people. The False Claims Act is designed to encourage whistleblowing among people — commonly employees of government contractors — who are in the best position to observe this fraud. If you believe you have observed your employer or an individual commit fraud against the government, consider filing a Qui Tam lawsuit under the False Claims Act. Remember, the best resource you have is a qualified and experienced lawyer, like a whistleblower retaliation claim lawyer from Eric Siegel Law, who can advise you regarding how to properly file your claim and how to make sure that you get both the monetary reward and protections to which you are entitled under the law.