Sometimes, workers may find themselves in a position where they have to make decisions that they fear will damage their relationship with their employer. For example, sometimes workers need to speak up about what they believe to be illegal practices at a business.
Those in the medical or railroad industries may have noticed questionable business and billing practices on the part of their employers, for example. Some workers will report such issues internally, only to discover that the company doesn’t take timely action. Others may decide that the best approach is to involve federal authorities.
A qui tam lawsuit filed under the False Claims Act is one of the ways that workers can push back against illegal conduct at a company by asking the courts to intervene. There are two crucial protections that those considering such a lawsuit need to understand.
Successful claims result in compensation
Those who initiate a qui tam lawsuit effectively initiate a financial claim on behalf of the government against their current or former employer. They provide evidence and testimony about misconduct at the company that employs them and can therefore receive as much as 25 or even 30% of the funds recovered in a successful claim. That financial compensation can be important, especially if the company ends up closing or downsizing afterward. The right to receive financial compensation for doing the right thing is a crucial protection for those who risk their current employment and their future career developments to hold a business accountable for misconduct.
Relators shouldn’t have to face retaliation
Federal employment rules protect workers from employers penalizing them over engaging and protected work activities. Those protected activities include making internal or external reports of organizational misconduct. Workers who serve as relators by filing a qui tam lawsuit shouldn’t have to worry about demotions, terminations or other workplace consequences because they initiate a qui tam lawsuit in response to a company’s seemingly illegal billing practices.
Of course, if a company has already demonstrated a willingness to violate the law in one area, they may very well do so in other areas as well. Understanding and making use of the legal protections in place for whistleblowers can be of the utmost importance for those who don’t want to wind up implicated in a company’s financial misconduct.