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New York Whistleblower And Commercial Litigation Blog

The elements necessary to prove employer retaliation

It is against both state and federal laws for an employer to retaliate against a whistleblower. Unfortunately, it is still prevalent.

When the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigates retaliation claims, there are specific elements they must prove. Here is a quick review of those essential factors.

Whistleblower gets $33 million in research fraud settlement

A lab research analyst who was ostracized and vilified after he blew the whistle on research fraud at Duke University Health Systems has been awarded $33.75 million as part of the university’s $112.5 million settlement with the government.

Joseph Thomas spent more than a year unemployed after he told about fraudulent research on the lung functioning of mice that was awarded dozens of grants starting in 2006 from the National Institutes of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency.

What’s protected under the Whistleblower Protection Act

The ability of federal government workers to report any malfeasance they see is the integral part of the Whistleblower Protection Act. If workers are afraid of retaliation, then they won’t help the government perform effectively.

The initial foray was made in the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, but the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 put teeth into the measure.

Report outlines effectiveness of whistleblowers

A recent report by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, “Report to the Nations: 2018 Global Study on Occupational Fraud and Abuse,” offers insights into who most often reports fraud, how they do it and whether they are effective.

The report finds that tips (whistleblowing) accounts for 40 percent of the initial detection of fraud, followed by internal audits and management review. Worldwide, occupational fraud occurs in 125 countries and costs $7 billion in total losses.

How prevalent is medical upcoding?

Upcoding – the practice of submitting a bill to Medicare or insurance companies using codes for procedures that were more expensive than the ones actually performed – faces growing scrutiny.

Last October, HealthCare Partners Holdings, a subsidiary of one of the nation’s largest dialysis providers, DaVita, agreed to pay $270 million to settle a whistleblower’s allegation that it cheated Medicare.

Defense Department culture punishes whistleblowers

A recent report by the Pentagon’s inspector general shows that the Defense Department, especially the Pentagon, harbors a culture that punishes whistleblowers.

The IG’s office found that from 2013 to 2018, 350 Defense Department officials were found to have retaliated or sought to intimidate 195 whistleblowers. In all, only one of the officials who retaliated against a whistleblower has been fired.

US joins whistleblower suit against Arriva Medical for kickbacks

The False Claims Act allows private parties -- often the employees of companies that contract with the government -- to file lawsuits on the government's behalf. When these whistleblowers have evidence of fraud, waste or abuse in a government contract, they can sue to help the government reclaim the money. In exchange for their service, the whistleblowers receive between 15 and 30 percent of the total recovery as a reward.

In some cases, the government, typically represented by the Justice Department, takes over responsibility for trying these cases. Government contractors who are found in violation of the False Claims Act, they can be held responsible for three times the government's losses, plus penalties.

Lockheed Martin, others accused of lying in government contract

The Department of Justice has accused Lockheed Martin Corporation, certain affiliated companies, and at least one executive of making false claims against the government and accepting kickbacks in regard to a multibillion-dollar contract. The contract was to clean up a nuclear site in Hanford, Washington.

The defendants in the government's lawsuit include Lockheed Martin Corporation, Lockheed Martin Services, Inc. (LMSI), and Mission Support Alliance LLC (MSA), along with companies that owned or were affiliated with MSA at points during the contracting process, including Lockheed Martin Integrated Technology LLC. The activities described took place between Jan. 1, 2010, through June 2016.

Whistleblower to receive $200,000 in False Claims Act case

"Businessmen and companies that lie to get their hands on taxpayer money will be held accountable for their actions," said a U.S. Attorney. "When some people cheat, those who play by the rules are put at a disadvantage."

He was talking about Omega Protein Corp. and Omega Protein, Inc. (Omega), a leading producer of fish oil, specialty fishmeal and organic fish solubles that are used by aquaculture and livestock feed manufacturers.

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