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What is a whistleblower claim?

You may have heard of the term "whistleblower" before. You may even understand that there can be some form of compensation from the government for being a whistleblower. But you are not exactly sure what this claim is and what protections you are afforded as an employee. Here are some general points about what a whistleblower claim is and how this could impact you as an employee.

The False Claims Act

The main body of law that provides employees protection and the ability to make a whistleblower claim is the False Claims Act. Under this federal law, an employee who witnesses or reports acts of fraud by his or her employer (specifically acts to defraud the government), can make a qui tam action. This is where the employee makes the claim in place of the government. The employee can seek treble damages (in general terms, triple) as well as receive a percentage of actual damages recovered. This percentage ranges between fifteen and thirty percent of what the government recovers. Sometimes attorney's fees can be awarded as well.

Types of fraud an employee may witness include Medicaid/Medicare fraud, kickbacks and referrals, violations of Sarbanes-Oxley, environmental fraud, contractor fraud, Department of Defense fraud, government loan fraud and more.

An important part of a whistleblower claim is that the False Claims Act also provides protection for the employee against any illegal retaliation by his or her employer. The specifics of this will be discussed in the next blog. If you have questions about whistleblower claims or believe you have such a claim, discuss your situation with an experienced California employee rights attorney.

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