You have heard of whistleblowing in the workplace, but have you heard of qui tam? Understanding what it is can help you determine if you have a case and qualify for protection.
Qui tam is a type of whistleblowing that involves government funds. This means that if your employer is misusing federal money or programs, you can file an action against the companyand receive a reward from the government.
Examples of fraudulent activity
The following are some of the ways in which your employer may defraud the government:
- Overcharging Medicare and Medicaid
- Falsifying records, statements and certifications
- Misclassifying taxable products
- Not complying with safety regulations
- Failing to disclose the terms of contracts
- Unlawfully marketing pharmaceutical drugs
If you have evidence of such an activity, then you should speak to an attorney with experience in qui tam cases.
Protection you receive
Qui tam falls under the False Claims Act, which protects and rewards those who report the illegal conduct of businesses working with the government. Your identity as a whistleblower will be secret for a time, and you should receive protection from employer retaliation. For this, you must be the first to file action, and the government cannot already be aware of the fraudulent activity.
If investigations determine there is a crime and enough evidence to pursue a case, then you may be eligible for a monetary award from the penalties the company has to pay. The amount you can receive depends on the helpfulness of your information, the success of the case and whether you were involved in the fraud. It also will include reimbursement for attorney fees, lost wages and other expenses.
Although the statue of limitations for a qui tam lawsuit is longer than most, it is still best to act immediately. Do not tell coworkers about your intentions to file. Seeking legal guidance from an employment attorney can help ensure you go through the process correctly so you can receive a reward.