The decision to escalate suspected illegal activity to the government can be a complex one. A specific provision under the False Claims Act, known as qui tam, allows individuals to take legal action on behalf of the government against fraud. But it is not always straightforward when it’s time to bypass your manager and report the matter directly to the government.
If you find yourself in this situation, there are telltale signs that might indicate you are dealing with a potential qui tam case. Recognizing these signs can guide you toward making the most informed decision.
Widespread or systemic fraud
If fraud appears to be widespread or systemic within your organization rather than an isolated incident, this could suggest that a higher level of intervention is necessary. Qui tam actions under the False Claims Act are typically invoked in cases of large-scale fraud against the government. So, it might be best to consider the qui tam route if you believe the fraudulent activities in your organization are widespread.
Involvement of senior management
When senior management is involved in or aware of fraudulent activities and takes no action, reporting directly to the government can often be more effective. Internal reporting can risk retaliation, especially when those at the top are part of the misconduct. While the law generally requires whistleblowers to make a ‘good faith’ effort to notify their employer before making the matter public, there are exceptions. These exceptions come into play, particularly during high-risk scenarios or if there’s a chance of evidence being destroyed.
Government funds at risk
The False Claims Act targets explicitly fraudulent activities that result in financial loss to the federal government. If the fraudulent activity involves false claims that lead to significant financial loss to the government, this could suggest that a qui tam action may be appropriate.
Your decision to make
Certain signs at your workplace could suggest a potential qui tam case. These signs could indicate serious issues but do not require specific action. Nonetheless, you have legal options to consider. The best choice can vary depending on the situation. If you believe you have information related to a qui tam case, you should consider speaking with a lawyer. They can help guide you through your options and understand potential risks, as initiating such a case may have its own challenges and consequences.