Though a Relator files a qui tam suit on behalf of the government, it is important to be aware that the False Claims Act, in some circumstances, also provides specific protections and legal remedies for injury sustained directly by a Relator who is or was an employee of the defendant. Subsection (h) of section of the Act, provides that an employee or ex-employee may have a cause of action against their employer under the federal False Claims Act if he or she was discharged, demoted, suspended, threatened, or harassed by his or her employer in retaliation for the employee taking steps pursuant to the False Claims Act.
A subsection (h) claim is a separate cause of action from the fraud that the defendant is alleged to have been committed against the government. The damages recoverable from the defendant in a subsection (h) claim flow directly to the Relator and the government has no right to share in any recovery the Relator may obtain as a result of a subsection (h) claim. A retaliation claim under subsection (h) claim can therefore often substantially increase the value of a case.
It is therefore imperative that your attorney analyze carefully whether you may have a subsection (h) claim that can be asserted at the start of the action. It is also vitally important that your attorney continue to monitor your employment status so that the Complaint can be amended to include a subsection (h) claim if such a claim arises after you have filed the Complaint.
Under subsection (h), an employee is entitled to any "special damages" sustained as a result of the retaliatory conduct, two times the amount of back pay owed, interest on the back pay, and reinstatement with the same seniority status that the employee would have enjoyed were it not for the retaliatory conduct.
If a claim is asserted under subsection (h), it is sometimes litigated or settled after the case with the government has settled. You should therefore retain counsel is familiar with pursuing this aspect of the case without government involvement.
Not all whistleblowers are employees. Accordingly, various other legal protections for whistleblowers have been enacted by federal and state legislatures. These legal protections vary and depend on the subject-matter of the whistleblowing and where it occurred. Below is a detailed chart of the various federal statutes that provide whistleblower protections. Many state statutes provides similar protections as well.
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Last updateThu, 18 Apr 2013 10am