Negligence of Organization: Whistleblower Lawsuit
If you realize that the organization you work for is covertly committing fraud, you might not know what to do next, especially if you’ve already informed your manager about the issue. The risk of losing your job or other forms of retaliation can make it challenging to do the right thing. However, acting as a whistleblower and reporting these crimes are forms of public service. People who report their employers for committing fraud against the U.S. government are eligible to receive a reward. The experienced attorneys at Leav & Steinberg LLP can discreetly handle a variety of whistleblower cases.
What Is a Whistleblower?
Anyone who witnesses or uncovers evidence of criminal acts by an organization, whether private or public, can act as a whistleblower. Typically, these cases involve misleading the federal or local government to secure unnecessary or inflated payments. Whistleblowers report these various forms of fraud to prevent the waste of taxpayer money.
What Is the False Claims Act?
Committing fraud against the federal government is nothing new. To encourage employees and other people to file complaints against groups misusing public funds, Congress passed the False Claims Act (FCA) in 1863 during the Civil War. The FCA was expanded in 1986 when there were many fraudulent claim reports filed by firms contracted to work with the military. These updates offered increased rewards to whistleblowers, allowed people to report more types of fraud, and made it easier to bring claims to court. There have been additional amendments to the FCA in 2009 and 2010 to address fraud related to the financial markets and medical care. In general, cases covered by the FCA involve the following:
- Knowingly filing a false claim to secure payment from the federal government
- Knowingly falsifying records to receive a reimbursement from the federal government
- Knowingly falsifying records to avoid paying the federal government
- Coordinating with others to secure payment from the federal government for a false claim
The False Claims Act relies on private citizens to come forward and protect public funds by reporting the abuse of government contracts. The FCA rewards whistleblowers by giving them a portion of the money that the government reclaims after suing the groups who have committed fraud. These rewards are typically 15-30% of the recovered money and are based on the whistleblower’s contribution to the case. FCA lawsuits often involve millions of dollars, which offers whistleblowers a significant incentive to come forward. The FCA has a statute of limitations of six years from the date the false claim. There is also a provision that cases may be heard if they are filed three years after the whistleblower found out about the fraudulent actions, as long as the lawsuit is filed within 10 years of the false claim.
New York False Claims Act
New York, like many other states, has its own False Claims Act that covers fraud against the state government. This bill was passed in 2007 and is similar to the federal FCA, but there are a few differences. First, the New York FCA allows whistleblowers to bring forward cases involving tax fraud. The federal FCA does not because federal tax fraud is already handled by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Also, the New York FCA has a more straightforward statute of limitations that is 10 years from when the false claim was made. Additionally, New York’s FCA provides a bit more protection for whistleblowers. It contains provisions that prevent whistleblowers from being blacklisted, fired, or harassed. Under the New York FCA, if a former employee faces retaliation, they can sue their former employer for double their lost wages, interest, and punitive damages.
Filing a Whistleblower Claim
To file a case under the FCA, whistleblowers and their attorneys must submit complaints of fraud to a federal court by giving the attorney general all of the evidence they have while following complex regulations. The case will be filed under seal, meaning the organization that is being sued will not be aware of the investigation until the government decides its next steps. This period technically lasts for 60 days but is often extended. If the government decides to intervene and pursue the case, they will take on most of the responsibility for the legal proceedings. Still, the whistleblower will be asked to collaborate and potentially testify.
Let Leav & Steinberg Handle Your Whistleblower Complaint
Choosing to come forward with information about fraud that your employer has committed can be difficult and stressful. That’s why the dedicated attorneys at Leav & Steinberg are here to guide you through the complex legal process of filing a whistleblower complaint at the federal or state level. Our lawyers can submit all of the necessary documents, notify the proper authorities of your case, and negotiate a reward that matches the contribution you’ve made to recover government funds. To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call 212-766-5222 or contact us online.