On Long Island, and throughout the New York metropolitan area, employment attorneys like the ones at Leeds Brown Law, P.C., assist workers to file legal claims against employers. Employers have ample opportunity to violate the law as there are hundreds of rules and regulations that govern nearly every aspect of running a business from hiring, firing, accounting, reporting, safety, and compensation, to name a few.
When a company or person obtains government funds through fraud, an employee or another private citizen may file a claim as an individual and on behalf of the government. This kind of fraud case falls under a federal law called the False Claims Act (FCA). This unique type of case brought under the FCA is called a “qui tam” action and allows the whistleblower who files a successful claim to receive a percentage of the money the government recovers from the guilty party. New York State has an equivalent law, The New York False Claims Act.
Because qui tam cases stem from unlawful procurement of federal or state funds, whistleblowers often work in various capacities for businesses that deal with the government on a regular basis. Some examples of whistleblowers are doctors, nurses, administrators, project managers, workers in billing and accounting departments, financial officers, procurement managers, researchers or executives. Anyone with knowledge of fraud may be able to make a claim. We encounter reports of fraud including, but not limited to:
If you work for an individual or business that is committing fraud to secure money from the government, you may want to consider filing a whistleblower or qui tam claim. The FCA provides you with an opportunity to put a stop to the unlawful practices of your employer and receive a portion of any financial recovery obtained.
Speaking with an experienced qui tam lawyer can help you decide the best way to proceed to protect your personal and professional interests. Attorneys at Leeds Brown have spent decades helping workers who uncover fraud, on Long Island and elsewhere, file qui tam/whistleblower claims against their employers and achieve successful outcomes. Find out if we can help you do the same by contacting our office today.
The False Claims Act also called the “Lincoln Law” was enacted in the late nineteenth century in response to widespread fraud against the government by military contractors selling supplies to the Union army. President Lincoln strongly advocated for the passage of the Act and its qui tam provisions. “Qui tam” is short for a Latin phrase that means “he who brings an action for the kind as well as for himself.” When Congress passed the FCA in 1863, it allowed private citizens to file lawsuits against businesses or individuals defrauding the government and provided whistleblowers with an opportunity to receive 50% of the government’s monetary recovery. Congress amended the law in later years and removed much of the incentive for individuals to come forward, rendering the act virtually useless for quite some time.
The FCA remained mostly in disuse until the mid-1980s. Spurred by increasing stories of outrageous charges paid by the defense department, such as the now famous $435 claw hammer and $650 toilet seat, Congress revisited and revised the act. In 1985, nine of the top ten defense contractors were under investigation for fraud and the Act was changed to provide, once again, incentive and protection for individuals who find evidence of fraud against the government.
Today under the FCA, people who file qui tam actions, called “relators,” may receive between 15-30% of the compensation recovered. The Act also protects whistleblowers from losing their jobs, being harassed or discriminated against because they report fraud, file a qui tam action, cooperate in an investigation or provide evidence in support of fraudulent activity.
By allowing private individuals to bring qui tam actions, and protecting and rewarding them in the process, the government can benefit from insider information that would have been unavailable in the absence of the Act.
According to the US Department of Justice, at the end of fiscal 2015, and for the fourth consecutive year, they recovered over 3.5 billion dollars from false claims act cases. Awards to whistleblowers who brought qui tam actions during 2015 exceeded 590 million dollars.
Filing a qui tam action can be a complicated process, and having an attorney with experience handling whistleblower cases can be crucial to the success of your claim. Here is a look at what a qui tam claim may involve:
Evidence of fraud- What evidence do you have? Receipts for overcharges or items never purchased? Were you asked to submit false Medicare claims? Does your boss keep records of unnecessary tests? Do you have paperwork, vouchers, emails, computer disks, or photographs? Your attorney can use this information to make an initial determination of the viability of your claim.
Attorney investigation- Your attorney can continue to investigate the facts of the alleged fraud by asking you many questions about the times, places, amounts and other details of the fraudulent conduct. You should be as specific as possible. This information will support your case as well as allow your lawyer to ensure that the statute of limitations has not expired.
Drafting and filing a complaint-A qui tam complaint is filed “under seal.” Under seal means it is private, the entity or person accused of fraud does not get to see it for some period. Filing an accurate and detailed complaint can help determine the outcome.
Government investigation-Remember, when you file a qui tam action, you are filing on behalf of yourself and the government who is also the victim of the alleged fraud. During the period the case is under seal, the government takes the time to decide if it will participate in your case. If so, the government will conduct a thorough investigation and may prosecute the case. If the government does not join the case, you may still proceed with your claim, but it will be harder to succeed.
Whistleblowers on Long Island need not continue alone if they uncover fraud against the government. Leeds Brown has experienced qui tam attorneys who are available to counsel and guide you through a case under the FCA. Many qui tam cases result in negotiated settlements. Having outspoken, determined advocates working on your behalf can make a significant difference in the results of your case.
Contact dedicated lawyers, handling qui tam claims on Long Island and in the greater New York area to find out if you have a case against your employer. Learn more about your rights and remedies under the False Claims Act by calling Leeds Brown 24/7 at 1-800-585-4658.