Under the False Claims Act, whistleblowers are protected (whistleblower protection) against retaliation, but being able to prove retaliation can be tricky, so it is important to be working with an attorney that is experienced in whistleblower protection cases and knows how to make full use of the protections available under law.
The False Claims Act, in some circumstances, provides specific protections and legal remedies for injury sustained directly by a whistleblower (called a “relator”) who is or was an employee of the defendant. Subsection (h) of the Act, provides that an employee or ex-employee may have a cause of action against their employer under the federal False Claims Act if he or she was discharged, demoted, suspended, threatened, or harassed by his or her employer in retaliation for the employee taking steps pursuant to the False Claims Act.
A subsection (h) claim is a separate cause of action that is distinct from the fraud that the defendant is alleged to have been committed against the government. The damages recoverable from the defendant in a subsection (h) claim flow directly to the whistleblower and the government has no right to share in any recovery that results from a subsection (h) claim. A retaliation claim under subsection (h) claim can therefore often substantially increase the value of a case.
Under subsection (h), an employee is entitled to any “special damages” sustained as a result of the retaliatory conduct, two times the amount of back pay owed, interest on the back pay, and reinstatement with the same seniority status that the employee would have enjoyed were it not for the retaliatory conduct.
If a claim is asserted under subsection (h), it is sometimes litigated or settled after the case with the government has settled. You should therefore retain counsel who is familiar with pursuing this aspect of the case without government involvement.
Your attorney should carefully analyze whether you may have a subsection (h) claim that can be asserted at the start of the action. It is also vitally important that your attorney continue to monitor your employment status as the case progresses.
Of course, not all whistleblowers are employees. Accordingly, various other legal whistleblower protections have been enacted by federal and state legislatures. These legal protections vary and depend on the subject-matter of the misconduct and where it occurred. Give us a call at (800) 590-4116 or complete the form below or to the right if you have questions about your own circumstances. There are ways to protect yourself during a whistleblower protection case.