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Whistleblower Lawyers

Businesses and corporations that engage in deceptive or fraudulent activities are a serious detriment to individuals and the American public as a whole. For this reason, federal and state governments have enacted numerous laws designed to deter companies from unlawful conduct and encourage employees and other insiders to report such behavior. These laws provide broad protections against retaliation for employees that “blow the whistle” on their employer’s illegal conduct. Many laws also provide substantial monetary incentives for individuals and business that report federal fraud.

The False Claims Act

In 2015 Alone, The Federal Government Recovered More Than $3.5 Billion In Settlements And Judgments From Civil Cases Brought Under The False Claims Act. Of That, More Than $597 Million Was Awarded Directly To Whistleblowers.

Fraudulent claims against the government cost U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars each year. Enacted by Congress during the Civil War, the False Claims Act is the government’s most powerful tool to fight fraud and reclaim stolen funds. The Act imposes liability upon the companies engaged in the fraud of three times the government’s damages plus penalties for each false claim.

Additionally, the Act includes a qui tam provision that allows any person or entity to file a lawsuit, on behalf of the government, against the organization that committed the fraud. The term “qui tam” comes from a Latin phrase meaning “he who sues on behalf of the king as well as for himself.” In this type of case, the whistleblower, also referred to as a “relator”, must provide specific evidence that the actor or actors knowingly submitted or caused the submission of a false claim for money or property. Whistleblower claims differ from other types of lawsuits, such as personal injury claims, because the person or entity filing the lawsuit does not need to show that he or she has suffered any damages.

Examples of fraud that may give rise to a qui tam claim under the False Claims Act or other similar laws include:

  • Healthcare and Medicaid fraud: The health care industry is currently the largest source of government fraud litigated under the False Claims Act.  When companies improperly seek reimbursement from Medicare, Medicaid and other government health benefits programs, it is liable if they do so knowingly or fail to report overpayments they discover.  One of the hottest areas for cases right now is pursuant to the Stark Law and Anti-Kickback Statute.
  • Defense contractor fraud: The second largest source of False Claims Act claims is generally the defense industry.  The military purchases equipment and services from a variety of businesses.  When a company in the defense industry makes misrepresentations or submits fraudulent bills, it is liable to the Federal Government under the False Claims Act.
  • Mortgage fraud: Financial institutions can be subject to government investigations and liability under the False Claims Act for fraud committed against federal housing programs.
  • Education fraud: Certain marketing and recruiting practices by for-profit colleges are prohibited by Title IV of the Higher Education Act.

Whistleblower lawsuits are extremely complex and time-consuming, with some cases taking years to settle or reach a verdict. However, a successful outcome yields substantial rewards. Whistleblowers receive between 15 and 30 percent of the government’s total recovery, depending on the government’s level of involvement in the lawsuit. In 2015 alone, the federal government recovered more than $3.5 billion in settlements and judgments from civil cases brought under the False Claims Act. Of that, more than $597 million was awarded directly to whistleblowers.

Whistleblower Protections

While there are only a few laws that provide financial incentives for whistleblowers, nearly all offer strong protections for employees willing to expose their employer’s waste, fraud, abuse of authority, or threat to public health. These protections include safety from retaliation, demotion, wage discrimination, harassment, and wrongful termination. Employees subjected to whistleblower retaliation by their employer have the option to file a claim in order to recover lost wages, reinstatement to employment, and other specific damages.

Timing is Critical

Employees with information about fraud or other illegal conduct are urged to contact an experienced Philadelphia whistleblower lawyer as soon as possible. Whistleblowers taking qui tam action against their employer may only collect an award if the lawsuit is filed properly and the claim is settled or won. It is also absolutely essential for whistleblowers to be the first to file a qui tam claim, as the law bars subsequent whistleblowers from recovery of any awards.

Retaliation Protections

The Federal False Claims Act offers protection from retaliation to whistleblowers bringing qui tam lawsuits under it.  The False Claims Act prohibits adverse changes to the terms and conditions of employment as a result of lawful whistleblowing activities to stop violations.  If an employee is discriminated against as a result of being a whistleblower, they are entitled to bring a cause of action in federal district court for double back pay, interest and compensation for special damages such as litigation costs and attorneys’ fees.  The anti-retaliation provisions of the False Claims Act are available to whistleblowers within three years of the date of retaliation.  Other laws, including state and local False Claims Act legislation, may provide additional anti-retaliation protections for the relator bringing a qui tam complaint.

Philadelphia Whistleblower Lawyers at Axler Goldich LLC Take Action Against Businesses and Corporations That Abuse the Public’s Trust

To report money lost by the U.S. Government because of fraud call 866-207-2920 or contact us online.

The SEC Whistleblower Program

In 2010, Congress enacted the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Dodd-Frank provided for the creation of Whistleblower Reward Programs through both the Securities & Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”).

The SEC and CFTC Whistleblower Programs provide monetary incentives for whistleblowers who voluntarily provide original information about possible violations of the Federal Securities Laws or Commodity Exchange Act that result in an order of monetary sanctions exceeding $1 million dollars. Original information is defined as information derived from independent knowledge that is not publicly available.

SEC and CFTC Whistleblower Awards

A whistleblower who reports any securities law violations will receive a reward if the SEC and any other government authorities recover monies. A whistleblower will receive 10 percent to 30 percent of the monies the SEC and other government authorities collect based on the whistleblower’s information if more than $1 million is collected. The percentage of the reward is set at the discretion of the SEC taking into consideration the significance of the information provided,
the assistance provided by the whistleblower and the whistleblower’s attorney, the programmatic interest of the Commission in deterring violations of the securities law, and any additional relevant factors.

Some Examples of Securities Misconduct are:

  • Misleading Adjusted Profits
  • Inflated Asset Values
  • Auditor Independence
  • Bribery / FCPA
  • Conflicts of Interest
  • Currency Manipulation
  • EB-5 Fraud
  • Misleading or Insufficient Fee Disclosures by Brokers/Private Equity
  • Insider Trading
  • Market Manipulation
  • Ponzi Schemes
  • Improper Short Sales

Axler Goldich SEC whistleblower attorneys  regularly evaluate whether individuals are eligible for rewards under the program and whether they have sufficient evidence to make a report worth filing. Contact us for a free, confidential consultation.
To report a securities law violation Call 866-207-2920 or fill out this information form online.