Both state and federal laws exist to protect whistleblowers, but often in only specific situations and when the statute of limitations has not expired. There are two primary whistleblower laws in Georgia that could bring about a Georgia whistleblower lawsuit. These are known as the Georgia Taxpayers’ Protection False Claims Act and the state False Medicaid Claims Act.
The goal of these acts is to explain what kinds of actions are directly against the intention of public policy and meet the grounds for the definition of fraud against the government, but also to lay the groundwork for whistleblowers who become aware of actual or planned instances of fraud that could harm the government as well as the taxpayers.
While the government might become aware of instances of fraud on their own, it is far more often the case that evidence and insight from a whistleblower is used to start a case and therefore, there are laws that protect the rights of whistleblowers and set up incentives for people in that situation to come forward with their evidence.
Understanding the Taxpayers Protection False Claims Act
This law is what enables residents of Georgia to initiate a qui tam or Georgia whistleblower lawsuit if they are aware of violations of that state law and have received the written approval to bring forward a case through the attorney general. The taxpayers’ protection False Claims Act was initially enacted in 2012 that expands the qui tam provisions, enabling people to bring whistleblower lawsuits beyond those that affected only the program of Medicaid in the past.
This act imposes civil liability on corporations, legal entities, and any person who knowingly submit a fraudulent or false claim or improperly avoid an obligation to local or state government. Although this is a separate law, the Georgia false Medicaid claims act does remain in effect and specifically places liability on corporations and people who knowingly submit fraudulent and false claims to the Medicaid program in Georgia.
This program enables whistleblowers who have inside information and evidence about such cases to initiate Georgia whistleblower lawsuits or qui tam lawsuits to recover funds on behalf of the state. Under each of these laws, a defendant would also be responsible for paying up to 3 times the actual harm done to the state in addition to a fine of between $5,500 and $11,000 for each singular violation.
In order to proceed with a whistleblower lawsuit, you should have good reason to believe that a violation has occurred or is about to occur. Even though a whistleblower cannot be held liable for cases in which it is ultimately determined that no fraud has occurred, the basis for this is whether or not the whistleblower had reasonable evidence or suspicion about this kind of behavior and action.
Recognizing Whistleblower Reward Potential and Stipulations
Much like many other states and some federal laws protecting whistleblowers, a whistleblower in a successful False Medicaid Claims Act or False Claims Act case is eligible to recover between 15% and 25% of any proceeds from a successful case in the event that a Georgia attorney general investigates and decides to join or between 25% and 30% of amounts recovered if the whistleblower proceeds on their own after the Georgia Attorney General has declined to participate in the case.
If there is any evidence that the whistleblower was involved in initiating or planning the fraud or if the information brought forward by the whistleblower in the case is partly based on details that previously been disclosed in public hearings or media, the court retains the discretion to reduce a whistleblower’s award. Furthermore, both the Georgia false Medicaid claims act and the Georgia taxpayers’ protection false claims act protect whistleblowers from being retaliated against by their employers.
These cases must be filed no later than 10 years after the date on which the violation occurred. Unfortunately, many people are nervous about coming forward to report instances of fraudulent activity because they could be potentially retaliated against. However, this is the reason that state and federal laws exist to encourage people who have inside information that the government might not otherwise be aware of to share the details. Retaliation can take many different forms, including reduction of pay, firing, demotion, fear, intimidation, black listing, disciplining, denial of benefits or reassignment.
As a society these statutes that exist to protect people in a Georgia whistleblower lawsuit are there to encourage the reporting of wrongdoing in a workplace which could ultimately help state or federal governments to recover compensation for instances of fraud. Georgia whistleblower laws forbid public employers from threatening to take action or taking action in response to an employee’s complaint about a legal violation or a breach of the public trust. It is important to recognize that whistleblower laws in Georgia are only in place to protect public rather than private employees and whistleblowers.
How to Handle a Potential Retaliation Lawsuit
The instance of retaliation can be a separate legal matter altogether and forms the basis of a Georgia whistleblower lawsuit. The employee involved in the case must have participated in a protected activity.
The protected activity usually means reporting certain types of misconduct or legal violations to an employer, refusing to engage in conduct that would violate the law even when your employer requested you to do so or reporting certain kinds of legal violations or misconduct to an agency with oversight over such matters. Bringing this evidence to an attorney who can help you with Georgia whistleblower lawsuit is strongly recommended if you find yourself in this position.
Even with clear laws about whistleblowers, having an attorney’s guidance in this difficult situation is necessary to get a firm understanding of the stages of the case and next steps.