Sometimes employees notice fraud against the government within their workplace. When they do, they want to do the right thing and put a stop to it, but they’re also afraid to take action. Sometimes this fear stems from the threat of retaliation, and losing their job and income. Other times, it is simply a fear of the unknown. If you have witnessed fraud against the government at your workplace, either under the federal False Claims Act or the California False Claim Act, it is helpful to know the proper steps to take. Understanding what will come next makes it easier to understand how to proceed.
The evidence collected in a qui tam lawsuit is the most important step in a whistleblower claim. Possible evidence could include emails, internal studies, test results, billing records, and anything else that points to the fraud. Wrongdoings that are witnessed first hand are ideal, but not necessary. Solid evidence can back up claims that are not eyewitness accounts, and give your case a better chance of success.
Presenting the Evidence
Under the False Claims Act, you must file a complaint in court, and submit a copy of the complaint to the government. You must also include a Disclosure Statement that will outline the details of the alleged wrongdoing. A meeting is often set up with a government agency before submitting the complaint and Disclosure Statement. This meeting allows you, your attorney, and the government agency to discuss the claim and its merit.
Once your complaint is filed, the government will conduct an investigation. Throughout this period, all aspects of the claim are kept confidential. That includes your name, and any details pertaining to the investigation. This means, if you are still working for your employer, you can likely keep your job and the fact that you have initiated an investigation under wraps. The complaint is typically under seal, or confidential, for at least 60 days. In many cases, the government asks to extend this deadline.
During this time, you and any other witnesses may be interviewed about the fraud. You must fully cooperate with any government agency to avoid repercussions yourself.
After their investigation is complete, the government will determine if they want to bring a case. If they do, your identity is disclosed, meaning your employer will know you are the whistleblower. However, the government only pursues cases it believes it will win, which means it is unlikely your employer can retaliate against you at that point. It also means that you have a better chance of claiming an award through a whistleblower lawsuit.
Need Help Blowing the Whistle? Our California Qui Tam Lawyers are Here
If you have witnessed cases of fraud against the government in your workplace, it is important that you take the necessary steps to make it right. At Willoughby Brod, LLP, our qui tam layers in California are here to help you do just that. We will review your case, help you gather evidence, and ensure your complaint is filed promptly and accurately to give you the best chance of success. If you are just as passionate about making things right as we are, and you have witnessed wrongdoing, call us today at (800) 427-7020 for your free consultation.
The False Claims Act and Government Contracts
(image courtesy of Lindsay Henwood)