Whistleblowers – those who “blow the whistle” on and expose commercial conduct that is dangerous, illegal, or unethical – are critical to protecting consumers, the general public, and the business environment from “bad actors” who seek to cut corners in order to make a profit.
Merely exposing unethical or unsafe conduct is oftentimes not enough, however, to keep businesses from engaging in such behavior: instead, these businesses will only stop when forced to do so through litigation.
State and federal governments lack the resources to hold every business accountable for their choices, so they enlist the help of whistleblowers by encouraging them to file qui tam lawsuits.
Learn how the Workplace Rights Law Group can assist you in filing and prosecuting such a lawsuit.
A Brief Look at the False Claims Act
Fraud against the government is not a new problem. In fact, it has been a regular occurrence throughout American history.
It was such a serious problem during the American Civil War that Congress passed the False Claims Act (FCA), which is still in effect today.
The FCA outlaws various fraudulent actions against the government by private contractors, including:
- Submitting a false claim for payment to the government;
- Making false, fraudulent, or misleading statements to apply for a government contract;
- Overcharging for a contracted product or service; and
- Demanding full payment for products that are known to be defective or dangerous.
However, the government knows it cannot be everywhere at once. So the FCA included a clause that empowered ordinary citizens to file a lawsuit on behalf of the federal government.
These kinds of lawsuits are called qui tam lawsuits. The phrase “qui tam” is a reference to an ancient Roman legal maxim.
The full phrase is “qui tam pro domino rege quan pro se ipso in hac parte sequitur.”
Translated into modern English, this archaic phrase essentially means that a qui tam whistleblower is someone who files a claim on the government’s behalf.
A qui tam plaintiff not only protects the government but benefits the public as a whole.
Defining a Qui Tam Lawsuit
Generally speaking, in a qui tam whistleblower lawsuit a private individual files a lawsuit under the federal False Claims Act or its state-level equivalent on behalf of a state or federal government agency and asserts the claim that the agency would have had against the business.
In other words, the private individual whistleblower stands in the place of the government agency, asserts the claims that the agency could itself assert against the defendant business, and recover compensation on behalf of the agency.
In return for their efforts, a successful qui tam lawsuit will permit the private individual whistleblower to receive a portion of the overall recovery as a reward (this portion increases if the whistleblower successfully prosecutes his or her qui tam case without assistance from the relevant government agency).
Under the Department of Justice’s current guideline, a successful qui tam plaintiff will receive anywhere between 15% and 25% of the government’s total recovery if the Department of Justice (DOJ) intervenes in the qui tam lawsuit.
If the qui tam plaintiff prosecutes the entire case without the DOJ’s assistance, they can recover up to 30% of the government’s damages.
There are several other factors that can affect the qui tam plaintiff’s final percentage.
However, because of the large financial sums involved in government fraud cases, the qui tam plaintiff’s share of the recovery can easily equal millions of dollars.
If you wish to learn more about your potential recovery amount in a qui tam lawsuit, you should reach out to one of our whistleblower attorneys in Los Angeles today.
Understanding Whistleblower Retaliation
Regardless of the outcome of your qui tam lawsuit, the FCA protects you against whistleblower retaliation.
In other words, your employer (or another private actor) cannot discriminate against you or penalize you because of your decision to file a qui tam lawsuit.
In fact, simply investigating potential fraud against the government provides you FCA whistleblower protection.
Whistleblower retaliation includes both obvious negative actions and seemingly trivial incidents.
Here are a few examples of whistleblower retaliation that are common:
- Losing your job, whether through firing or through a conveniently timed “layoff”;
- Suffering a demotion;
- Being transferred to another office or position;
- Facing exclusion from office social events, job perks, and necessary job-related trainings;
- Receiving threats of retaliation for your whistleblowing;
- Suffering disciplinary actions, including reprimands, counseling, and suspensions;
- Having your work load increased or decreased; and
- Being the target of slurs, inappropriate jokes, and other offensive remarks relating to your actions.
Please keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list of potential retaliatory actions. Even seemingly innocuous actions can qualify as retaliation upon closer scrutiny.
For that reason, it is critical you take action if you suspect you are witnessing whistleblower retaliation.
Contact a local Los Angeles whistleblower attorney right away.
Los Angeles Qui Tam Whistleblower Lawsuits Can Be Difficult to Win
The mere fact that a Los Angeles business – perhaps even your employer – committed an unethical or illegal act does not mean the success of your qui tam lawsuit is guaranteed.
Businesses routinely employ skilled attorneys and law firms to assist them in defeating whistleblower lawsuits: therefore, retaining an experienced and tenacious law firm of your own to assist you in your qui tam case is essential.
Workplace Rights Law Group is Your Qui Tam Law Firm of Choice
Here at Workplace Rights Law Group we have several experienced whistleblower attorneys in Los Angeles who are standing by to meet with you and hear your case.
Every Los Angeles whistleblower lawyer at our firm possesses the knowledge, legal skill, and resources to help Los Angeles whistleblowers expose unlawful or unethical conduct through a qui tam lawsuit.
When we take your case, we will guide you through each step of the process and help ensure you receive the compensation to which the law says you are entitled.
Speak with us quickly to best safeguard your rights: call or contact the Workplace Rights Law Group right away for help with your Los Angeles qui tam lawsuit.