A whistleblower attorney and their clients often make the front page of the newspaper. That’s because the issues involved often apply to more than just the case at hand. That’s especially true of cases involving fraud against the government. The US government has enacted many rules and regulations to keep industries that supply goods and services to governmental agencies on their toes. These regulations can have many beneficial effects, including a cleaner environment, safer working conditions, and less waste and fraud. However, the regulations only work if they’re followed.
Sometimes industries sidestep or simply ignore regulations in an attempt to cut corners and defraud the government. Employees who discover this type of fraud may not know who to turn to for help. They may also fear workplace retaliation or harassment in the workplace. That’s why a whistleblower attorney is so important when reporting fraudulent activities by an employer who works for the government. The attorney must also be prepared to help the whistleblower defend themselves against workplace retaliation.
What are some of the tools a whistleblower attorney uses to help their client? One of the most important laws is the False Claims Act. Let’s take an in-depth look at this important piece of legislation, and examine how it’s used by whistleblower attorneys:
The False Claims Act
President Abraham Lincoln signed this provision into law on March 2, 1862. Since its enactment, it has become one of the most powerful anti-fraud laws in the United States. It allows an individual to act on behalf of the government and take action, such as a lawsuit, against a federal contractor they believe committed fraud against the government. A whistleblower attorney frequently applies this law when filing lawsuits on behalf of their clients.
How Did the False Claims Act Come About?
During the American Civil War, fraud was rampant among suppliers to both the Union and Confederate armies. Unscrupulous contractors and suppliers often provided troops with inadequate or poor quality supplies. They would often supply rancid food and provisions, shoddy weapons and ammunition, and uniforms whose stitches barely held together just to satisfy their contracts.
Neither the Union nor Confederate governments had the knowledge or resources to pursue cases against these fraudulent suppliers. In 1863, President Lincoln enacted the False Claims Act to fight this fraud. The act allowed individuals to take action against any contractor they knew was defrauding the government, on behalf of the government. As an incentive or reward, those individuals receive a percentage of any money recovered from the lawsuit. This is known as the qui tam provision.
Qui Tam Whistleblower Attorney and Client Provisions
This provision is one of the most important parts of the false claims act for whistleblower attorneys and their clients. The name qui tam comes from the Latin phrase Qui tam pro domino rege quam pro se ipso in hac parte sequitur. Translated from Latin, this means: [He] who sues in this matter for the king as well as for himself. The provision gives individuals the right to collect a reward for bringing fraudulent activity to light. Depending on circumstances, the government offers a reward of between 15% and 25% of any award granted from the lawsuit.
In 1986, Congress amended and strengthened the law, They discovered that an increasing amount of fraud, especially in the defense industry, was going unaddressed, and in some cases, undetected as well. Among the amendments were a series of protections against a worker who files a Qui Tam lawsuit against an employer. Any harassment in the workplace or workplace retaliation by an employer as a result of the lawsuits is illegal. Their actions may cause a separate lawsuit by civil rights lawyers if there is a hostile work environment present.
When an employer is working for the federal government, they need to follow all the rules and regulations pertaining to the industry. The regulations ensure the contractors deliver the products or services the government paid them for.
Help From a Qualified Whistleblower Attorney
If you believe a federal contractor is sidestepping important regulations, you need to get involved to stop the fraud. You also need to protect your rights in the case of any workplace retaliation. The first step you can take is to speak to a whistleblower attorney about the alleged infraction. The Law Offices of Cathe Caraway-Howard and her team understand the ins and outs of regulations like the False Claims Act, and know how to apply the law to protect you. They can help you put an end to fraudulent activity by unscrupulous employers.