False Claims Act

whistleblower protection laws
The False Claims Act or Lincoln Law  is an American federal law that imposes liability on persons and companies (typically federal contractors) who defraud governmental programs.  It is the federal Government’s primary litigation tool in combating fraud against the Government.

In a qui tam action, a private party called a relator brings an action on the government’s behalf. The government, not the relator, is considered the real plaintiff. If the government succeeds, the relator receives a share of the award usually between 15% and 25%, but up to 30% in some cases. Also called a popular action. Qui tam, under the False Claims Act, allows persons and entities with evidence of fraud against federal programs or contracts to sue the wrongdoer on behalf of the United States Government for:

  • Knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented, to the federal government a false or fraudulent claim for payment or approval.
  • Knowingly makes, using, or causing to be used, a false record or statement material to get a claim paid by the federal government.
  • Conspiring with others to get a false or fraudulent claim paid by the federal government.
  • Knowingly using, or causing to be used, a false record or statement to conceal, avoid, or decrease an obligation to pay money or transmit property to the federal government.
  • Knowingly buying, or receiving a pledge of an obligation or debt, public property from an officer or employee of the Government, or a member of the Armed Forces, who may not lawfully sell or pledge property.

In Qui tam actions, the government has the right to intervene and join the action. If the government declines, the private plaintiff may proceed on his or her own.  Some states have passed similar laws concerning fraud in state government contracts.

False Claims Act Whistleblower Protections

Under Section 3730(h) of the False Claims Act, any employee who is discharged, demoted, harassed, or otherwise discriminated against because of lawful acts by the employee in furtherance of an action under the Act is entitled to all relief necessary to make the employee whole. Such relief may include:

  • Reinstatement
  • Double back pay
  • Compensation for any special damages including litigation costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees.

Many states have wrongful discharge or other employment laws that may provide other remedies for such discrimination.

The Statute of Limitation for filing a False Claims Act (FCA) retaliation case is different then that for filing a qui tam recovery case. A False Claims Act (FCA) retaliation case must be filed under the statute of limitation applicable to the most closely analogous state statute.

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For more information visit: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/31/3729