Whistleblowers Rights – Protection From Employer Retaliation

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Aug 5, 2019

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Many people who discover that their employer is defrauding the government consider bringing a Qui Tam, or whistleblower, lawsuit – but are concerned about their employer retaliating against them. In a recent interview, our expert explained how whistleblowers are protected from employer retaliation.

Anti-retaliation laws

Larry Golston, an Alabama attorney whose firm represents clients in Qui Tam litigation, as well as consumer fraud and bad faith insurance litigation, says the False Claims Act statute has an anti-retaliation section to it. He explained, “The statute itself has provisions in it that if the employer takes any steps to retaliate against you, such as demote you or terminate your employment, you can then also bring a claim for damages on those grounds and sue them for retaliation.”

We asked Golston if a company can violate the statute and retaliate against someone anyway. Although he admitted that a company could, he stressed that the statute is fairly strict. He explained:

The statute has teeth to it to make the employer think more than twice about doing that because now they’ve dug even a deeper hole for themselves because now, not only have they violated the False Claims Act by defrauding the government when it was clear and obvious who the person was that blew the whistle, then they violate the statute again by retaliating against the employee. It makes a bad situation much worse for them.

In essence, the company cannot take any adverse employment actions against the employee, which means that the employee cannot be demoted, terminated or be stripped of any benefits. If the relater can prove that any adverse employment action taken against them was due to the fact that they have blown the whistle and told the government about these actions, then they can amend their complaint and bring a retaliation claim against them as well.

Damages associated with retaliation

The damages associated with retaliation are similar to those in employment law cases, according to Golston. “If you lose your job, then you’re going to sue for back wages, front pay, or things of that nature to offset the damages you incurred from not having an income. So let’s say the company terminates you and you can’t find another job. Well, you’re going to claim not only the back pay, but also that you’re entitled to a certain amount of pay if it was reasonably foreseeable that you wouldn’t be able to find another job – especially in cases where the person has been blacklisted.”

If you believe that you may have a Qui Tam lawsuit, or if you’ve been retaliated against for bringing a lawsuit, contact an attorney whose practice focuses in these areas of the law. Consultations are free, without obligation and are strictly confidential. To contact an experienced attorney, please click here.

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