Understanding the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers’ Act
Whistleblowers are eligible to file what is known as a qui tam or Virginia whistleblower lawsuit if they know of violations involving Virginia fraud against taxpayers’ act. This imposes liability on people who knowingly present fraudulent or false claims for payment through state funds, purposely avoid binding obligations to pay the state or misappropriate state property.
There are several other violations that are provided under the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers’ Act that can become the basis of a Virginia whistleblower lawsuit. In the event that one of these violations comes forward as a case, a defendant could be ordered pay a fine that is equal to between $5,500 and $11,000 for each individual violation of the law.
A defendant can also be ordered to pay up to three times the actual harm done to the state in addition to the previously mentioned fines but this is money that is paid out to the state beyond money recovered that was due to the state in the first place. The money that was due to the state due begin with could become the basis for a possible award for a whistleblower who assists the government with the case in bringing forward pertinent information that was not previously known in any public forum or investigation.
Are Virginia Whistleblowers Entitled to Whistleblower Awards?
Much like many other states that set up incentive programs for people who learn of wrongdoing that defrauds taxpayers, Virginia has a program in place to encourage whistleblowers to share their information and alert the government about pending or past fraud.
Those whistleblowers who bring forward information that enables the state government to conduct a thorough investigation and discover money owed to the government are eligible to receive between 15% and 25% of any funds paid to the state in a recovery action.
This has to do with those cases in which the Virginia Attorney General steps into the matter. In some cases, the Virginia Attorney General might conduct their own investigation and decide not to proceed. In those cases, if the whistleblower decides to go forward on their own, they could be eligible to receive between 25% and 30% of any award that comes up in a successful claim.
If there is any evidence discovered in the process of this investigation that whistleblower initiated or planned the fraud or if the action is based on the information that has already been publicly disclosed in public hearings or through the media, the court can reduce the value of the award to the whistleblower in a Virginia whistleblower lawsuit.
Understanding Virginia Whistleblower Lawsuit Protections
Many state and federal laws have protections in place for employees who go out of their way to report fraud. If an employee attempts to initiate a legitimate claim or assists the state with its own claim by participating in investigations or hearings, the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act also protects this whistleblower.
It is essential for plaintiffs who believe they have grounds for Virginia whistleblower lawsuit to file their complaint within ten years on the date on which the violation occurred. These laws are in place because many employees might recognize the additional challenges that they face when bringing a claim that could impact their employer. This could lead to a separate legal matter beyond the initial Virginia whistleblower lawsuit with regard to retaliation.
There are both statutory and common law protections that could impact a potential employee. Under the common law, an employee cannot be discharged for any reason that violates Virginia’s public policy and there are three different situations recognized by Virginia courts in which an employee can sue for wrongful discharge. First of all, the employee cannot be discharged or dismissed from their position for refusing to participate in a criminal act. Furthermore, if a statute creates a right and the employer violates the public policy enabling the exercise of that right, an employee can initiate a Virginia whistleblower lawsuit, suing for wrongful discharge.
Finally, if an employer’s retaliatory action against an employee violates an existing Virginia public policy, the employee can also bring a lawsuit for wrongful discharge. The employee is responsible in these cases, however, for establishing that they are a member of a class of persons that the statute was designated to protect. Employees who engage in protected activities under laws in certain subject areas are protected from retaliation. This includes home inspection, lead and asbestos contractors, workers’ compensation, and occupational safety.
Are All Whistleblowers Protected?
There is no general whistleblower protection statute in the common law in Virginia; meaning that there are very limited protections under Virginia law. For those who are interested in filing a Virginia whistleblower lawsuit, it is recommended to consult with an experienced and knowledgeable attorney who has a strong background in brining cases like this before the court. Having the insight of a lawyer to guide you through the process can bring about clarity.
As you can see, there are many complex elements to a modern VA whistleblower suit. Any small misstep could prove problematic for a person who has inside information about when fraud has harmed the Virginia government or the federal government. It’s important that these cases be handled delicate to protect the interests of the whistleblower; being informed at each stage of the case can be helpful for a person who might feel as though they are taking a big risk by coming forward in this manner. Support your claims with the help of a whistleblower attorney in Virginia.