Some businesses prefer to cut corners to save themselves a few dollars. When these kinds of practices cross the line into defrauding the government, employees have an opportunity to speak up. When workers go public with this information, they are referred to as whistleblowers.

Whistleblowing has a long history in the United States, with a wealth of federal legislation being crafted over the years to protect those who speak up. Unfortunately, many companies have taken adverse action against whistleblowers, up to and including firing them from their job and attempting to humiliate them publicly.

If you or a loved one are currently subject to whistleblower retaliation by an employer, you can seek legal representation. Our expert Morristown Employment attorneys have years of experience defending whistleblowers and will vigorously fight for your rights. Contact us today for more information.

The False Claims Act Protects Whistleblowers

Section 3730(h) of the False Claims Act protects employees from retaliation after reporting an employer’s engagement in practices that defrauded the government. Specifically, it states that if any employee was demoted, harassed, or fired as a result of blowing or attempting to blow the whistle on their employer, they are entitled to relief.

Protections Provided by the False Claims Act

When an individual helps with a lawsuit against an employer that has attempted to defraud the U.S. government, that individual is known as a qui tam relator. Similarly, the lawsuit in question is referred to as a qui tam lawsuit. These types of cases have a special designation because the qui tam relator is technically assisting the government.

A qui tam lawsuit can be brought by any individual with information on another company or an individual’s attempt to defraud the U.S. government. The qui tam relator is rewarded if and when the lawsuit is decided in the government’s favor. Once a qui tam lawsuit is filed, the qui tam relator is entitled to specific protections under federal law.

The False Claims Act contains specific provisions that prevent retaliation on the part of the employer. It applies to employees, independent agents, and independent contractors alike.

Whistleblower Retaliation

Whistleblower retaliation can take many forms. Unfortunately, many employers are very subtle in their retaliation, which is likely an attempt to avoid detection. An employee might be the subject of employer retaliation if they experience any of the following:

  • Termination from their position
  • Demotion to a lesser role
  • Reassignment to another department or set of tasks
  • Suspension
  • Surveillance by the employer
  • Harassment by their superiors or fellow employees due to their superiors
  • Intimidation by their superiors or fellow employees due to their superiors
  • Wage reduction
  • Revelation of their whistleblower status to fellow employees
  • Retaliatory lawsuit from their employer
  • Administrative leave
  • Improper performance evaluations
  • Retaliatory investigations
  • Threats of additional consequences

When someone makes a retaliation claim, the Department of Labor’s Administrative Review Board evaluates it. This board defines retaliation very broadly and takes its time when investigating claims.

Retaliation Takes Many Forms

Because retaliation can be insidious, it is often difficult to discern if you are being subjected to it. Many employers will cloak their retaliation attempts in performance reviews or other bureaucratic rituals to obfuscate that they are punishing the employee for speaking out.

If you are a whistleblower, it is important to remember that retaliation extends beyond termination. In fact, many whistleblowers have faced serious instances of retaliation while still employed by the company they reported.

If you or a loved one are currently being retaliated against, it is important to maintain clear documentation of every aspect of your situation. Additionally, you should consider contacting NJ Employment Lawyers as soon as possible so our attorney can help before the retaliation gets out of hand.

Other Whistleblower Protection Laws

The False Claims Act isn’t the only whistleblower legislation that the government has passed. Thus, if a company moves to silence you as a result of your reporting, it could find itself in violation of several federal statutes.

Many employers are aware of the severity of retaliation, which is why they will go to great lengths to obscure their actions. In turn, this makes it important that you know your rights and that you speak with an attorney if you feel you are being retaliated against.

Whistleblower Qualifications

A whistleblower is an employee who can provide information on a company’s attempts to defraud the United States. Any evidence they put forth must be sourced from their personal knowledge of the situation. This means they can’t blow the whistle using information that is already publicly available.

If you’re unsure whether you have been the subject of employer retaliation due to blowing the whistle — or whether you even qualify as a whistleblower in the first place — get in contact with NJ Employment Lawyers today to schedule a consultation.