What is a Whistleblower Lawsuit?
A Whistleblower Lawsuit, also known as a Qui Tam Action, is when an individual with firsthand knowledge of the defrauding of a government program such as health care, sues the entity committing the fraud on behalf of the government. This is very specialized work and is usually done by an attorney that specializes in this area of law.
How Much Can You Win if Your Whistleblower Lawsuit Is Successful?
A “Whistleblower” can be rewarded up to 30% of the money the government recovers from the entity that stole it. And, in a Whistleblower Lawsuit, the government doesn’t just go after the money that was defrauded, it imposes treble damages on the defendant. This means that a company that stole $6 million dollars from Medicaid could be ordered to pay back the government as much as $18 million dollars in fines. The person who files the Whistleblower Lawsuit will receive a percentage based on this amount.
Who Can File a Whistleblower Lawsuit?
A person that files a Whistleblower Lawsuit is usually an honest, hard working individual whose values don’t match those of their employer. In other words, the employee has detected some sort of government fraud being committed by their employer. It may be that a pharmacy employee is told by their boss to fill name brand prescriptions with generic drugs, and the pharmacist subsequently bills Medicaid for the name brand drugs. The pharmacist keeps the difference, an illegal gain through the practice of deception. Or a hospital billing person may be told by their supervisor to bill Medicaid/Medicare for services that weren’t provided to the patient.
If you work for a company or facility that provides Medicaid benefits to people and you believe the company is stealing from Medicaid, then you should contact a competent Whistleblower Attorney to discuss your case. The attorney will ask you specific questions regarding the amount and frequency of the fraud, as well as what evidence you can produce to prove your allegations. The lawyer will assess your odds of winning by seeing if your case meets the government’s threshold for intervention. If it does, and the lawyer decides to go ahead with the case, you will then be advised on how to proceed. Your first step is to contact a reputable, competent attorney who can file your Whistleblower Lawsuit.
How Are You Protected If You File a Whistleblower Lawsuit?
You may be wondering what your rights are as an employee when your employer finds out you have filed a Whistleblower lawsuit, and rightfully so. You could lose your job, get sued or face numerous other forms of retaliation from your employer when they find out you have blown the whistle.
Are You Telling Me My Boss Will Find Out I Am The One Who Filed The Lawsuit?
Yes! If you decide to go ahead with your lawsuit, your boss / employer will indeed find out that you filed it. Initially the lawsuit is filed “under seal”, which means that no one is supposed to have any communications about the case outside of the government. The reason for this is that you are alleging federal crimes in your lawsuit, and the government would like the chance to see your allegations before your employer does –so they can decide whether or not to intervene. At some point after your claim is filed with the government, possibly between 6 -12months, they will make a decision on whether or not to intervene. If they do decide to intervene, they may ask a judge for more time to keep the lawsuit under seal while the government investigates. If the government decides not to intervene in your case, your lawyer may ask you to drop the case under the premise your chances of winning are slim, based on the government’s decision to drop out. If you and your lawyer agree to go ahead with the lawsuit without government intervention, the suit will be unsealed and a copy will be served on your employer. Your name will be on the lawsuit.
So, Can I Get Fired When My Employer Finds Out I Was The One Who Filed The Lawsuit?
Yes, you can. Is it legal to fire you for filing a Whistleblower lawsuit? No. But that may not stop an unscrupulous employer from finding another reason to fire you. Or the employer may find subtle ways to harass you so you leave by your own choice.
What Recourse Do I have If I Lose My Job?
There are several protections you have, under the law, if you are fired in retaliation for filing a Whistleblower lawsuit. It may not be a slam dunk though, because you may have to prove, in court, that this was the reason you were fired.
Your Protections May Include;
- Reinstatement of your job at the same level you left
- Double the amount of back pay you would have received for time lost
- Legal fees If you chose the right attorney to file the claim, there is a good chance the government will take up your cause. When the government intervenes in a case, employers are much less likely to go after the employee who filed the suit because they themselves will fear retaliation from the government.Remember, if you have any questions regarding a Whistleblower lawsuit, please feel free to email us. While we are not lawyers or a lawfirm, we do have contact with prominent and trustworthy attorneys in this field that we can recommend you.