Whistleblower and Qui Tam
San Diego Whistleblower Lawyers and Qui Tam Attorneys
If you have been terminated or demoted for reporting your employer’s wrongful or illegal activity you may have what is known as a whistle-blower claim. The Gould Firm is experienced in these types of cases and is here to answer your questions and to evaluate your case.
The term whistle-blower was originally used to describe an individual who reported the illegal actions of a company or corporation that was defrauding the government. Over the years, however, the definition has been expanded to include any employee who identifies and reports any illegal activity in the workplace or anyone who reports corporate or business crimes that are being committed without the knowledge of the victim.
Examples of whistle-blowing may include reporting the fact the employer is ignoring health and safety laws, or forcing drivers to drive over-scheduled hourly limits, or disclosing financial fraud, environmental violations, or other activities that are illegal or against well established public policy such as sexual harassment in the workplace or misuse or abuse of company funds by directors and officers. In California, a whistle-blower may complain internally to his or her own employer or externally to government agencies that might have an interest in the employer’s illegal activity.
Unfortunately, in addition to employment retaliation, whistle-blowers often experience threats of termination or even acts of physical violence from employers or other coworkers after reporting such conduct. Consequently, a whistle-blower’s reporting activities are to be treated as confidential or anonymous. To protect a whistle-blower retaliation and intimidation, the government and State have also enacted specific laws. To qualify for protection under whistle-blower laws, a person need not report an activity that is, in fact, a violation of law or public policy. The employee must only reasonably believe that the activity being reported is in violation of the law or of public policy.
Additionally, certain laws referred to as, “Qui Tam” laws permit and encourage private citizens to bring an action on behalf of the government against a person or company that may be defrauding the government. A qui tam lawsuit is typically brought by the government against a company after a private citizen has identified to the government the corrupt conduct. Very often, the person reporting fraud against the government (the qui tam plaintiff) is a company employee, but almost anyone can bring a qui tam case. Whistle-blower protection remedies under the qui tam statutes protect a qui tam plaintiff who is terminated in retaliation for their reporting of illegal acts and may reward the qui tam plaintiff with a share of damages which can be in the millions of dollars.
Though protected by the law, a whistle-blower is more likely to be subject to ridicule and harassment, especially by those whose wrongdoing has been exposed. A whistle-blower often experiences termination, demotion, transfer, harassment, and other forms of retaliation, especially if the persons whose acts were reported was a supervisor or manager above them.
If you have experienced a termination, demotion or other treatment in retaliation for reporting unlawful, fraudulent, or unsafe conditions on the job, reporting health or safety violations, reporting wage and hour violations, cooperating with an investigation of fraudulent government contracting practices, refusing to file false reports or claims, supporting another employee’s claim of discrimination or sexual harassment, or refusing to provide false testimony before an agency or court hearing, contact our experienced employment law attorneys today.