As a potential whistleblower, you have probably come across the term “qui tam.” This is another phrase used to describe whistleblower lawsuits that employees bring against a company when fraud or illegal activities might have occurred.
As a potential whistleblower, you have probably come across the term “qui tam.” This is another phrase used to describe whistleblower lawsuits that individuals bring against a company when fraud or illegal activities might have occurred.
A qui tam lawsuit is one of the most powerful tools to hold a company accountable for fraud. These are often initiated by a whistleblower who is an employee, former employee or just an individual who has knowledge of fraud. A whistleblower might contact a NY whistleblower lawyer to discuss how to file a case and what it means to file suit. These cases help the government to address numerous kinds of fraud, including defense contractor fraud, Medicaid fraud, and Medicare fraud.
Under the False Claims Act, any private citizen with knowledge can sue a business or individual on behalf of the government. This lawsuit is filed under seal and will be kept secret for a period of time so that the government can review the case and decide whether or not it will intervene. During the time the case is under seal, the government might use the help of a whistleblower attorney to investigate the claims.
There are many factors that go into whether the government will intervene in a NY qui tam case. The government chooses to intervene in only a small number of these cases. Even if the government elects not to participate further, the whistleblower can continue the case. If the case is successful, whether the government participates or not, a whistleblower in New York could recover a portion of the award recovered.
Whistleblower lawsuits in NY are complex and can take years. Hiring the assistance of a NY whistleblower lawyer could help you anticipate the stages involved and to prepare accordingly.
Understanding The New York False Claims Act
The New York False Claims Act enables whistleblowers to initiate a qui tam lawsuit if that employee knows of fraud against the New York State government. Furthermore, whistleblowers are provided various protections and a reward if the case is successful.
The New York False Claims Act imposes liability on those people who submit fraudulent or false claims for payment to local or state governments, deceptively avoid obligations to pay local or state governments or misappropriate state or local government property. The law also covers any tax law violations including fraudulent return submissions.
Are There Fines for Violating The New York False Claims Act?
A defendant could be ordered to pay as much as three times the actual harm to the state and consequential damages in addition to a fine of between $6,000 and $12,000 for every violation of the act.
Is A Whistleblower Entitled to An Award in The State Of New York?
A whistleblower who brings a successful claim could recover between 15% and 25% of any award if the state intervenes in the matter. The state government always can decline participating in the matter and if the state does not intervene and the whistleblower proceeds on their own, the whistleblower can recover somewhere between 25% and 30% of the total recovery.
That reward can be reduced if the action is based on information that is already been disclosed in public hearings or the media or if the whistleblower initiated or planned the fraud. Furthermore, whistleblowers should be aware that they are entitled to protection from retaliation by their employers or prospective employer by helping the state with the claim or by filing the claim directly.
Those employees who believe that they may have grounds to initiate a whistleblower claim should be aware that they have a maximum 10 years from the date on which the alleged violation occurred to bring a formal whistleblower allegation. Any person who uncovers evidence of what they suspect to be fraud or illegal activity should act quickly and can benefit from speaking directly with an experienced whistleblower lawyer.
Many employees are hesitant about acting despite the state and federal whistleblower protections in place. It can still be important to sit down with an experienced attorney and discuss the process of bringing forward a whistleblower claim as well as some of the challenges typically associated with people in this situation.
Are There Legal Protections for Private Sector Employees Regarding Whistleblowing and Retaliation In New York?
In general, an at will employment doctrine applies for most people who are working with employers. This means that the employer is within their rights at any point in time to discontinue the employment contract. However, there are many exceptions to this general rule that enables employers to terminate you at their will. Statutory protections can be specific, addressing certain areas and one of these have to do with retaliating or discriminating against a whistleblower for taking what is known as protected action. In addition to the federal laws in place, New York has several general whistleblower protection statutes and a whistleblower protection statute for healthcare employees.
Other New York statutes directly reflect anti-retaliation provisions. Those employees who engage in protected activities under the law, including that surrounding whistleblowing, are protected from certain forms of retaliation. An employee cannot be retaliated against or discharged for making a complaint, testifying at a proceeding or instituting a proceeding regarding a violation of certain New York laws.
How Do I File A Whistleblower or Retaliation Claim in The State Of New York?
The statute of limitations may shorten the time period for which an employee has to bring a whistleblower or retaliation claim. For retaliatory actions, you should act within three years of the alleged incident. An employee can report retaliatory action to the commissioner of the New York Department of Labor and can file this complaint in an appropriate court within two years of the retaliatory action. It’s important to realize that you must empower yourself with information which can be obtained by consulting with an attorney.
What Are Prohibited Employer Activities?
Due to the New York Labor Code 740, employers cannot suspend, discharge, demote or take other adverse employment actions if an employee threatens to or actually discloses information or testifies or refuses to participate in an action that violates rules, laws or regulations or if an issue presents a substantial or specific danger to public health or safety. The violation should initially be reported to a supervisor to allow the company reasonable opportunity to correct the issue at hand.
What Should a NY Whistleblower Do Next?
Anyone who believes they have evidence of fraudulent activity should consult with a New York whistleblower lawyer to learn more about how to bring a case and whether it is the next right step for you.