The False Claims Act is a shield and a sword for whistleblowers who report fraud against the government. Both federal and state False Claims Acts protect whistleblowers from retaliation and allow whistleblowers to receive an award for reporting fraud.
The False Claims Acts empower whistleblowers to file “qui tam” claims on behalf of the government for fraud against government programs. Qui tam lawsuits are filed under seal, meaning in secret, to allow the government time to investigate the claims and determine whether to intervene in the case. Whistleblowers, called “relators,” may receive up to 30% of any recovery and up 25% of any recovery when the government intervenes.
Because most whistleblowers are inside employees who report fraud committed by their employer, False Claims Act laws protect whistleblowers from workplace retaliation. To protect whistleblowers, these laws allow whistleblowers who are retaliated against to recover:
- Back pay
- Reinstatement of employment
- Severance pay
- Specific damages
- Punitive damages
- Attorney’s fees and court costs