We have experience handling many types of whistleblower matters that arise in the employment context. When an employee discloses or threatens to disclose perceived fraudulent, unsafe, or other illegal practices, any number of statutory and/or regulatory schemes may apply. We can handle the following types of whistleblower claims:
False Claims Act/Qui Tam First enacted in 1863 to stop rampant profiteering during the Civil War, the federal False Claims Act imposes liability on persons and companies who defraud the government or governmental programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid. States have enacted similar laws imposing liability for fraud against state governments and governmental programs. These laws contain “qui tam” provisions which allow private citizens to bring suit on behalf of the United States (or a state government) to recover monies owed to the government. As a reward, the whistleblower (called a “relator”) typically gets to keep a substantial percentage of amounts recovered.
The federal and state false claims acts apply in a wide array of situations involving an employer’s misuse of government funds or misleading of the government in order to obtain such funds. Typically, the subjects of false claims act litigations are federal contractors and health care institutions, and claims have involved fraud arising out of Medicare and Medicaid billings, military and defense contracting, part suppliers, environmental certifications, education grants, emergency relief programs, housing programs, and other government spending programs.
SEC Whistleblowers/Qui Tam The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act contains whistleblower provisions designed to reward the reporting of violations of federal securities laws. By limiting rewards only to those who provide “original information”—which requires that the information not be previously known to the SEC—potential whistleblowers are incentivized not to alert companies about the violation. Notably, a whistleblower is allowed to submit information to the SEC anonymously. In such cases, however, the whistleblower must be represented by counsel and the whistleblower’s identity must be disclosed to the SEC before an award is made, but need not be disclosed unless and until an award is made.
IRS Whistleblowers/Qui Tam The Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006 created a whistleblower rewards program for individuals informing the IRS of tax fraud and other misconduct. The law provides monetary rewards in cases where the potential amount owed to the IRS by companies, in combination for back taxes, penalties, interest, and additions to tax, exceeds $2 million.
Whistleblower Retaliation Care must be exercised in handling whistleblower matters because these laws contain strong anti-retaliation provisions that are designed to prohibit employers, in part, from discharging, demoting, suspending, threatening, harassing, or discriminating against a whistleblower. If such conduct occurs, whistleblower laws generally provide for a private right of action for reinstatement, double back pay, and attorney’s fees.
State Law Retaliation Claims Litigation also arises under state laws providing specific whistleblower causes of actions or other state laws which prohibit retaliation against whistleblowers. For example, New York Labor Law Sections 740 and 741 prohibit retaliatory action against an employee because the employee discloses, or threatens to disclose illegal or unsafe activity.
Who’s Who Legal Awards
Charter Fellows of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers
Former Chairs of the American Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Law Section
New York Super Lawyers
Former Chairs of the New York State Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Law Section
Former Chair of the American Bar Association’s Equal Employment Opportunity Committee
AV Peer Review Rating by Martindale-Hubbell