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What you need to know about whistleblower protections

If you know there is an agency or company that is acting fraudulently and costing the government money or assets, you have the right to speak up. Your case, known as a qui tam case, is allowed by law.

The False Claims Act is a provision that allows individuals and entities with information on fraud being committed against the government to come forward and file a lawsuit on the government's behalf. With a qui tam action, the government retains the right to step in, to intervene and join the action. However, if the government decides not to do so, then you have a right to continue to sue on the government's behalf.

Who can file a qui tam action against an entity or individual?

If you have proof of fraud against federal contracts or programs, then you can file a claim. Anyone with that information has a right to do so. Also know that if another person, entity or the government has already started a claim based on the same evidence, you will be unable to take the claim to court.

A qui tam case is filed confidentially and taken to federal court. Those who are found guilty of violating the False Claims Act may be held liable for three times the amount the government was to receive. For example, if a company defrauds the government by $1,000,000, then the company could be liable for up to $3,000,000 and additional penalties of up to $10,000 for each false claim. As a plaintiff, you have a right to receive between 15 and 30 percent of the recovery from the defendant.

How long do you have to file a qui tam lawsuit?

You have up to six years from the time of the violation or a maximum of three years after the government should have known about the violation. The statute of limitations applies after 10 years, making it impossible to make a claim at that point.

Can you be fired for making a claim against a company?

No. In fact, it is illegal to demote, harass or discriminate against you because of your filing of a claim. You are protected by law. Any employee who is discharged or faces harassment due to filing a claim has a right to reinstatement, double back pay, compensation for litigation costs and other actions that would make the employee whole.

Your attorney can help you understand the rights you have under the False Claims Act. With the right support, you can make a claim and benefit from it.

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