Whistleblowers who uncover fraud against the government are protected from workplace retaliation. 31 U.S.C. § 3730(h). However, whistleblowers who have been fired or otherwise retaliated against by their employers should know that they can only bring their claims within the time allowed by the applicable statute of limitations.
The False Claims Act (FCA) provides whistleblowers with both a private right of action against those who defraud the government and an individual cause of action for related workplace retaliation. § 3730(b) and (h). However, that law’s six-year statute of limitation only applies to the fraud claim, not the whistleblower’s individual retaliation claim. Graham County Soil & Water Conservation Dist. v. United States ex rel. Wilson, 545 U.S. 409, 417 (2005). Rather, the Supreme Court has held that courts should look to the “most closely analogous state statute of limitations.” Id. at 422. In North Carolina, this is the state’s three-year statute governing wrongful discharge. Id.; N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1-52(5).
Critically, this means that whistleblowers face many different statutes of limitations depending on which state’s law governs their claim.