Employer Retaliation For Reporting Fraud Or Abuse
Whistleblowers are often concerned that their employer may retaliate against them if they report fraud or abuse. In 1986, the False Claims Act (FCA) was amended to address these concerns. The FCA now protects individuals who blow the whistle on fraud or wrongdoing from retaliation that may result from their efforts to expose fraud.
In order to have a claim for retaliation under the False Claims Act, an employee must show that:
- The employer is subject to the FCA and the employee is engaging in protected activity under the FCA;
- The employee suffered an adverse employment action; and
- There is an inference of causation between the protected activity and the adverse action.
Adverse employment actions can include discharge, demotion, suspension, threats or harassment by an employer. It is important to keep in mind that an employee does not generally have to file a qui tam action in order to be protected from retaliation under the FCA; the fact that an employee is investigating matters that could lead to a viable FCA action can be enough.
Relief available under the anti-retaliation provisions of the False Claims Act includes:
- Reinstatement with the same seniority status that the whistleblower would have had but for the retaliation;
- Two times the amount of back pay and interest on any back pay; and
- Compensation for any special damages sustained as a result of the retaliation.
These special damages include reasonable attorney fees and litigation costs and under certain circumstances they may also include damages for any emotional distress the employee suffered as a result of the retaliation.
Retaliation claims may not be brought more than three years after the date when the retaliation occurred, otherwise the claims may be barred by the statute of limitations. It is therefore important to act promptly to protect your rights under the False Claims Act.
If you believe you have a whistleblower claim where the government has been harmed or if you believe you have been retaliated against for attempting to expose fraud committed against the government, do not delay. Contact the experienced attorneys at Butler Wooten & Peak LLP, for a free and confidential consultation.