Articles Posted in Whistleblowers and Qui Tam Lawsuits

samson-duborg-rankin-91091-unsplash-copy-300x200One of the biggest fears many employees have when deciding whether to blow the whistle on their employer’s illegal conduct is employer retaliation. No one wants to rat out an employer when it means he or she will be fired from a job. Luckily, California has whistleblower protection laws in place that make it illegal for employers to retaliate against their employees for being a whistleblower. However, these laws do not always stop employers from retaliating against their employees, especially in more subtle ways. Rather than firing a whistleblower employee, which is obvious employer retaliation, an employer may try to push an employee out in more subtle ways. If you believe you may have been the subject of employer retaliation after blowing the whistle on your employer’s illegal conduct, contact the whistleblower lawyers at Willoughby Brod today to find out how we can help.

Six Ways Your Employer May Try to Retaliate Against You

While pushing you out of the company in more subtle ways, your employer may try to convince you that what they are doing is not considered employer retaliation at all. By making yourself knowledgeable about some of the most common ways employers try to push employees out, you can better equip yourself to recognize employer retaliation when it happens to you.

simon-abrams-286276-copy-300x200No one likes a snitch in petty situations, but in the face of corporate fraud, employee whistleblowers are some of the most invaluable individuals to society. While employees may try to seek recourse for improper employer actions internally, they will often find this path closed off to them. A company’s internal human resources department will more often than not side with the employer and not with an employee who is attempting to divulge negative intel about the company. As such, employees are often left with no choice but to blow the whistle on their employer’s unruly conduct through other outlets. Listed below are just a few reasons why employee whistleblowers are so important. If you have reason to believe your employer is engaging in fraud of any sort, contact the experienced whistleblower attorneys at Willoughby Brod LLP today to have your case reviewed for free by a legal professional.

Employee whistleblowers have an insider’s view.

Employees who work closely alongside the mastermind of the fraud typically have a unique, and superior, vantage point into the fraud that is being committed. Not only are they able to detect fraud at the source, but they are sometimes the only person who is aware of the fraud. Thus, it is crucial that employees who detect fraud within their companies report the fraud as quickly as possible. By reporting fraud in a timely fashion, an employee whistleblower can not only prevent damage to potential victims of the fraud, but also ensure a higher likelihood that he or she receives the highest reward possible from the government for reporting the fraud.

israel-palacio-463979-copy-300x200With the high number of TRICARE fraud cases in the United States, it is no wonder that healthcare fraud is the second highest priority of focus for the U.S. Department of Justice. The $2.7 trillion healthcare industry is an enticing target for those wanting to commit healthcare fraud, which is defined as purposefully misrepresenting a medical treatment or product in order to receive a higher benefit. In fact, Humana Military has estimated that 7-10% of the $2.7 trillion industry is fraudulent. If you suspect your doctor is committing TRICARE fraud, call an experienced qui tam lawyer at The Brod Law Firm today to learn more about how you can report your case as a whistleblower.

What is TRICARE?

TRICARE is a federal healthcare program, similar to Medicare, for uniformed service members, retirees, and their families. TRICARE provides comprehensive coverage to its beneficiaries, including general health plans, special programs customized for beneficiaries, prescriptions, and dental plans.

 samson-duborg-rankin-91091-unsplash-copy-300x200If you suspect that your employer or another organization is committing fraud, financial mismanagement, unethical practices, or other illegal activities, you have a right to report that illegal activity as a whistleblower. This four step guide to whistleblowing will explain the exact steps you need to take to successfully report a whistleblowing case.

Hire a good lawyer, fast. The first thing you will want to do is hire an experienced whistleblower attorney as soon as you detect the organization’s illegal activities. While you may be tempted to report the illegal activity internally, many organizations will do anything they can to mask internal misconduct and will defend the company at your expense. Even though whistleblower retaliation is prohibited under federal OSHA laws and the California False Claims Act, it is not unheard of for employers to fire or mistreat their employees who have been discovered to be whistleblowers.

An experienced attorney, on the other hand, can give you advice as to exactly what you should be doing to gather evidence and build a strong case, without risking your job security. While a lawyer will be your best support in filing a whistleblower case, it is still your job to collect all the necessary evidence. A whistleblower case is not based on hunches alone but on hard, solid evidence.

hush-naidoo-382152-copy-300x200Insurance fraud can take place across multiple industries, from automobile insurance to medical insurance to property insurance. In most cases, the victim does not even know that he or she has been defrauded. By making yourself aware of common insurance fraud schemes in California, you can better equip yourself to identify insurance fraud when it occurs and help stop insurance fraud in California. If you believe you have witnessed an incident of insurance fraud, call Brod Law Firm at (800) 427-7020 today to speak with an experienced qui tam attorney and learn how you can help.

What is Insurance Fraud?

The California Penal Code defines insurance fraud as the willful injury, destruction, or disposition of any property that is insured against loss or damage. Consumers and businesses alike can be guilty of insurance fraud. While a consumer might be found committing insurance fraud by submitting a claim to his or her insurance company based on false injuries, a business might be found committing insurance fraud by inflating the cost of their services or billing for services that were never performed. While insurance fraud can take place in just about any industry, the most common industries in which insurance fraud is seen are the automobile, healthcare, workers’ compensation, property insurance, and life insurance industries.

benjamin-child-90768-300x200Many employees are afraid to report their employer’s illegal conduct in fear that they will be terminated or punished in some way. However, California law prohibits whistleblower retaliation against an employee and offers restitution for those who have been victims of whistleblower retaliation. If you have been the victim of whistleblower retaliation in California, contact our experienced San Francisco whistleblower attorneys at (800) 427-7020 immediately for your free case evaluation.

What is Whistleblower Retaliation?

Whistleblower retaliation in the workplace can look similar to other forms of workplace retaliation. However, whistleblower retaliation refers specifically to retaliation against employees in response to employees’ reporting of his or her employer’s illegal actions or improper conduct. Whistleblower retaliation can take the form of wrongful termination, demotion, denial of resources and training, negative performance reviews, increase in work hours, and more. California whistleblower laws extend these protections to contractors and agents in addition to employees.

jonathan-perez-409943-copy-300x200Ever since the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, all violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) have been actionable under the False Claims Act (FCA). In plain language, this means that, if you are aware that people in your workplace are defrauding government agencies, you can file a qui tam lawsuit, also known as a whistleblower lawsuit, on behalf of the government. California has become the most recent state in which the Department of Justice (DOJ) has taken legal action against a pharmaceutical company that, according to whistleblowers, engaged in fraudulent practices related to the marketing and promotion of an addictive drug.

The Drug, the Pharmaceutical Company, and the Fraudulent Activities

The drug at the center of the controversy is an analgesic mouth spray; the FDA has approved the drug only for the treatment of breakthrough cancer pain. Breakthrough pain, a phenomenon common in cancer patients, is when a patient is able to control his or her chronic pain through consistent use of medication but occasionally also suffers acute pain (“breakthrough pain”) that requires additional medication. Thus, the approved uses for the drug were quite narrow. Despite this, the pharmaceutical company allegedly engaged in several prohibited practices in order to entice physicians and nurse practitioners to prescribe the drug for patients other than those for whom it was intended. Whistleblowers reported the following AKS violations on the part of the drug company.

ken-treloar-385255-copy-300x200Medicare and Medicaid are taxpayer-funded healthcare programs instituted for the purpose of ensuring that all Americans have access to basic health services. Fraud on the part of health care providers is a major threat to these programs and to the health of millions of Americans who benefit from their services. Every year, physicians and other members of the healthcare industry enrich themselves by diverting funds from Medicare and Medicaid to themselves and by fraudulently billing these publicly funded programs. Whistleblowers who have helped bring legal action against purveyors of healthcare fraud have helped the nation recover billions of dollars for healthcare.  If you are aware of healthcare fraud at your workplace, contact an attorney to discuss filing a qui tam lawsuit.

How Big a Problem is Healthcare Fraud?

The Department of Justice collects data on healthcare fraud, and the figures are alarming. For 2014, the most recent year for which the DOJ has published statistics, it is clear that healthcare fraud was widespread, but that the government, with the help of whistleblowers, was taking effective measures to stem it.

piron-guillaume-96228-copy-300x200Federal authorities arrested five individuals connected to San Fernando Valley clinics and a significant health care fraud scheme. On May 22, a federal grand jury indictment was unsealed. The indictment alleges that the five individuals engaged in a health care fraud conspiracy over multiple years and targeted at least eight health insurance companies and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, the Pacific Maritime Association Benefit Plan, and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.

The Conspirators

According to the Department of Justice (DOJ) press release, the co-conspirators included:

howard-lawrence-b-652037-unsplash-copy-300x169The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that Lance Armstrong, a former professional cyclist, has agreed to pay the U.S. $5 million to resolve a whistleblower lawsuit regarding allegations that he violated the False Claims Act (FCA) by using performance-enhancing drugs and methods (PEDs) while sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).

If you are aware of a professional athlete or team violating a federal or state government sponsorship agreement, contact a San Francisco qui tam attorney at Brod Law Firm.

Armstrong’s Doping Case