Qui tam actions are legal actions brought by individuals against others who have presented a false claim for payment to the federal government. Qui tam actions are typically brought by employees against their employers, but can be brought by others. Employees who bring qui tam actions against their employers enjoy what is called “whistleblower protections” from retaliation by their employers. If you are considering reporting your employer for fraud, an employment law attorney can help you understand the process and protect yourself.
When you file a qui tam action your identity is protected. You file under seal with a U.S. District Court. Even though your identity is confidential while the case is under seal, it is not unusual for employers or coworkers to figure out who filed based on circumstances and the nature of the investigation.
Qui Tam Recovery
The Justice Department investigates the case and the government may or may not take over the case. If there is a criminal investigation, your civil action will be delayed. In the end you can be rewarded for bringing a qui tam action by receiving a percentage of the monetary recovery. If the government chooses not to pursue the case, you can pursue it on the government’s behalf.
Whistleblower Protection from Retaliation
It is not uncommon for employers to retaliate against employees who report their illegal activities. The False Claims Act protects those who bring a qui tam action from retaliation. Retaliation is any negative action by your employer which is taken as a result of your involvement in a qui tam action. Retaliation can include:
- Reducing pay or choosing not to increase pay
- Other penalties or changes in work conditions
Not Just Qui Tam
Qui tam actions are just one type of whistleblowing that is protected. Employees who report safety violations, environmental violations, fraud, employment discrimination, and other illegal acts are protected under various federal laws and may also be protected under state and local laws.
Compensation for Retaliation
The compensation you may receive if you have been the victim of retaliation can depend on which law covers the type of violation you reported or participated in the investigation of. Generally, your employer may be required to reinstate you to any position from which you were fired or demoted, pay back pay, sometimes double back pay with interest, and possibly compensate you for other damages.