Filing an Illinois whistleblower lawsuit could be the appropriate avenue for you to pursue compensation for harm that you have sustained because of an employer who broke the law and then retaliated against you.
There are state and federal laws that protect whistleblowers who, in good faith, report concerns about instances of fraud and illegal activity. In Illinois, one of the whistleblower laws is known as the Illinois False Claims Act. This Act enables whistleblowers to bring a qui tam lawsuit if they are aware of fraudulent behavior causing harm to the government.
The Illinois False Claims Act officially places liability on people who knowingly submit fraudulent or false claims for payment to local or state governments, deceptively conceal obligations to pay the government or misappropriate government property. Any individual who is found guilty of violating the False Claims Act could be ordered to pay up to three times the actual harm done to the state in addition to a fine of between $5,500 and $11,000 for each individual act of violation.
Protections When Bringing an Illinois Whistleblower Lawsuit
Most whistleblowers have genuine concerns about what might happen to them in their job if they report fraud. Even when the person has a strong belief that fraud has occurred, it’s natural to worry about potential retaliation in the workplace.
Recognizing the critical role that whistleblowers play in alerting the government to fraud, most states, including Illinois, have laws on the books to protect such citizens. Playing any part in an Illinois whistleblower lawsuit, including making a complaint, participating in a hearing, or even the employee refusing to participate in illegal behavior and actions all entitle this citizen to legal protections.
Even though the law allows for a whistleblower to fight for reinstatement to his or her former position in addition to other damages, many companies still cross the line and use the employee’s participation as the basis for adverse employment action such as termination or demotions. An employee does not have to show that the entirety of such a decision was based on the whistleblower’s involvement in the suit, rather, he or she must show that the adverse employment action was at least in part motivated by this protected activity.
Whistleblower Awards in Illinois
Under the Illinois False Claims Act, a whistleblower who brings an Illinois whistleblower lawsuit could be entitled to recover between 15% and 25% of any recovery from the state if the Illinois attorney general decides to prosecute the matter. In some situations, the Illinois state government might decline to participate in the case. In this situation, the party bringing the Illinois whistleblower lawsuit can still choose to continue on their own.
If a whistleblower proceeds with such a lawsuit on their own, they could be entitled to receive between 25% and 30% of the total amount recovered. In the rare event that the whistleblower initiated or planned the fraud or if the action is brought primarily on information that has already been disclosed in public hearings or in media, the value of the award given to the whistleblower could be reduced. Whistleblowers must file a complaint no later than 10 years of the date on which the alleged violation occurred.
Whistleblower awards are present whether or not the government gets involved in the case and so long as the person blowing the whistle brought forward substantial information that aided in the recovery of funds. These rewards are also separate from any damages that the citizen could be entitled to based on the employer’s harassing behavior. A separate lawsuit brought by the whistleblower could target the employer for retaliating against the worker who made a good faith effort to report fraud.
Understanding Retaliation and Whistleblower Rights
Whistleblowers filing an Illinois whistleblower lawsuit are entitled to protections under the law if an employer retaliates against an employee who has brought a legitimate whistleblower claim in good faith. The employer could be held responsible for damages done as a result of retaliation.
Retaliation can include demotion, firing and other actions that are due to the employer attempting to get back at the worker for reporting legitimate concerns of fraud or illegal activity. Employers are forbidden from retaliating against an employee who brings an Illinois whistleblower lawsuit when that employee has disclosed certain information to law enforcement agencies or to government. This includes any information that an employee has a reasonable cause to suspect is a violation of state or federal rule, regulation or law. Furthermore, employers are forbidden from creating and enforcing any policy or regulation that prevents an employee from disclosing these details.
Understanding Unlawful Retaliation
Clear retaliation for whistleblowing behavior can lead to being transferred to a lower paying position or being fired. However, retaliatory actions can also include eventual layoffs, denied training, blacklisting, withdrawal of benefits, job transfers to a dead-end job, a sudden round of poor evaluations and denied advancement. What is important is that the whistleblower be able to show that the employer at least considered the whistleblowing activity in taking the retaliatory action.