Do Whistleblowers Get Protection from Workplace Retaliation?
Whistleblowers who know about government fraud and attempt to do the right thing by notifying superiors can be caught off guard by the sometimes retaliatory reaction of their employers. Government contractors who engage in fraudulent conduct can be liable under the False Claims Act (FCA). Whistleblowers who have knowledge of this conduct can bring a lawsuit under the FCA to recoup for the government those false or fraudulent payments and receive between 15-30% of that recovery. But did you know whistleblowers also have retaliation protections under the FCA?
The FCA protects whistleblowers from being “discharged, demoted, suspended, threatened, harassed, or in any other manner discriminated against in the terms and conditions of their employment.” 31 U.S.C. § 3730(h)(1). In order for this protection to be available, the whistleblower must be engaged in “protected activity.” A protected activity is defined as lawful acts in furtherance of an action under the FCA; or other efforts to stop one or more FCA violations. 31 U.S.C. § 3730(h)(1). If you have any question s about a situation occurring in your workplace, contact an experienced workplace retaliation lawyer at Ashcraft & Gerel. A skilled workplace retaliation lawyer can provide you the information you need and give you answers.
While a retaliation claim under the FCA will frequently accompany an underlying FCA claim, a whistleblower who has been retaliated against can bring a retaliation claim without a corresponding FCA claim. A retaliation claim can also be brought against a future employer who retaliates against a former whistleblower. This is an important protection under these anti-retaliation provisions as it is a common practice for whistleblowers to be “blackballed” from employment opportunities when future would-be employers discover that an employee was involved in a prior FCA case.
Remedies for violations of the anti-retaliation provisions of the FCA are robust and allow a whistleblower to: be reinstated; receive double back with interest; and may receive special damages to include litigation costs, reasonable attorney’s fees, damages for emotional distress, and other noneconomic damages. 31 U.S.C. § 3730(h)(2).
The decision to blow the whistle against an employer who is committing fraud by filing an FCA case can be a difficult decision. Having the benefit of a workplace retaliation lawyer can make that process easier. Our clients typically lose their jobs either by choice or by being forced to leave. The anti-retaliation provisions of the FCA are critically important to help protect those who do the right thing by attempting to protect taxpayer funds. It also critically important that the FCA anti-retaliation provisions do not require a whistleblower to either be successful in a corresponding FCA case or to even bring an FCA case in order to prevail in a retaliation claim. The effect on whistleblowing if that were not the case, would be to potentially impede good people from coming forward with information about fraud.
If you know about government fraud or have been retaliated against for notifying your employer about government fraud, call an experienced retaliation claim lawyer at Ashcraft & Gerel, LLP. A retaliation claim lawyer can help you through the steps of filing a claim. Call a retaliation claim lawyer today if you know of a government fraud or were the victim of a workplace retaliation to fully protect your rights.