False Claims Act Whistleblower Protections
Who And What Is Protected?
What Acts Of Retaliation Are Prohibited And What Are An Employee’s Remedies?
The False Claims Act (“FCA”), 31 U.S.C. § 3729 et seq., protects employees, contractors, and agents who engage in protected activity from retaliation in the form of their being “discharged, demoted, suspended, threatened, harassed, or in any other manner discriminated against in the terms and conditions of employment.” 31 U.S.C. § 3730(h)(1). It also authorizes substantial awards to qui tam relators (whistleblowers) for bringing and prosecuting cases concerning fraud on the government. If you have been retaliated against by your employer in violation of the FCA here in San Francisco or elsewhere in California, call us today at (415)441-8669 and we can help. Our toll-free number is 1-888-50EVANS (888-503-8267).
Who is protected under the False Claims Act whistleblower protection law?
False Claims Act whistleblower protection extends not only to employees and contractors, but also to partners in a partnerships and limited liability companies and general contractors that are retaliated against businesses defrauding the government in government projects. See U.S. ex rel. Kraemer v. United Dairies, L.L.P., 2019 WL 2233053 (D. Minn. May 23, 2019); Munson Hardisty, LLC v. Legacy Point Apartments, LLC, 359 F. Supp. 3d 546, 558 (E.D. Tenn. 2019) (LLC that was general contractor on defendant’s construction project was proper FCA plaintiff). In addition, the False Claims Act whistleblower protection law extends to physicians with staff privileges at a hospital. Powers v. Peoples Cmty. Hosp. Auth., 455 N.W.2d 371, 374 (Mich. Ct. App. 1990); El-Khalil v. Oakwood Healthcare, Inc., No. 19-12822, E.D. Mich. April 20, 2020.
What is protected whistleblowing or protected conduct under the False Claims Act Retaliation Law?
The FCA protects:
- “lawful acts . . . in furtherance of an action under [the FCA]”; and
- “other efforts to stop 1 or more [FCA] violations.” 31 U.S.C. § 3730(h)(1).
Recent cases have interpreted this protected activity to include:
- internal reporting of fraudulent activity to a supervisor;
- steps taken in furtherance of a potential or actual qui tam action; or
- efforts to remedy fraudulent activity or to stop an FCA violation.
FCA whistleblower protection attaches regardless of whether the whistleblower mentions the words “fraud” or “illegal.” The employer need only be put on notice that litigation is a “reasonable possibility.” A reasonableness standard is inherently flexible and dependent on the circumstances; thus, “no magic words—such as illegal or unlawful—are necessary to place the employer on notice of protected activity.” Jamison v. Fluor Fed. Sols., LLC, 2017 WL 3215289, at *9 (N.D. Tex. July 28, 2017). An FCA retaliation claim does not require proof of a viable underlying FCA claim. The FCA anti-retaliation provisions “do not require the plaintiff to have developed a winning qui tam action”; they “only require  that the plaintiff engage in acts [made] in furtherance of an [FCA] action.” Hutchins v
What acts of retaliation are prohibited by the False Claims Act anti-retaliation law?
The False Claims Act whistleblower protection law prohibits an employer from discharging, demoting, suspending, threatening, harassing, or in any other manner discriminating against a whistleblower. Prohibited retaliation includes:
- oral or written reprimands;
- reassignment of duties;
- constructive discharge; and
- retaliatory lawsuits against whistleblowers.
What remedies or damages can a whistleblower recover under the anti-retaliation provision of the False Claims Act?
A whistleblower who prevails in a False Claims Act retaliation case under the FCA may recover:
- double back pay, plus interest;
- special damages, which include litigation costs, reasonable attorney’s fees, emotional distress, and other non-economic harm from the retaliation. 31 U.S.C. § 3730(h)(2).
If you have credible information of government fraud call Ingrid M. Evans at (415) 441-8669, or toll-free at 1-888-50EVANS (888-503-8267) or by email at <a href=”mailto:email@example.com”>firstname.lastname@example.org</a>. In addition to FCA and CFCA whistleblower cases, Ingrid and Evans Law Firm, Inc. also handle bank fraud whistleblower cases under FIRREA/FIAFEA, commodity trading and securities fraud under the Commodities Futures Trading Commission Whistleblower Program and the Securities and Exchange Commission Whistleblower Program, and tax fraud under the Internal Revenue Service Whistleblower Program.