When a private individual comes across fraudulent activities or practices that might be hurting the government, they can actually file a lawsuit against the offender on behalf of the federal government. These untraditional lawsuits are known as qui tam lawsuits – qui tam being an abbreviation of a Latin phrase meaning ‘he who sues in this matter for the king as well as for himself.” If the result of the lawsuit leads to a financial gain for the government, the initial plaintiff who brought the case to court will be rewarded with a portion of the winnings, averaging around 25%.
Can I lose my job for filing a qui tam lawsuit?
As qui tam lawsuits involve some sort of fraud, in most cases they are filed by someone who discovered illegitimate practices done by their own employer. Typically, falsified records or reports will attempt to earn larger government grants or collect higher tax amounts. Some of the most common forms of fraud that damage the federal government include:
- Consumer fraud
- Education fraud
- Healthcare fraud
- IRS tax fraud
- Scientific fraud
In order to protect the “whistleblowers” who bring the harmful actions to light, the False Claims Act explicitly defends them from employer retaliation upon filing a qui tam lawsuit. If any sort of punishment is enacted, there could be grounds for another lawsuit involving this separate matter.
Why doesn’t the government handle these cases on their own?
Most of the time, qui tam lawsuits are created to bring the violations to the attention of the federal government. The subversive acts that were cheating the system were too subtle or too deep-seated in an organization for the government to notice without a complete audit. It is not uncommon, however, for the federal government to get involved and help win a qui tam case once a private consumer has filed it.
In fact, it is directly to the plaintiff’s advantage to gain assistance from a governmental body. Had they won the case unassisted, most of the recovered funds would have been given right back to the federal government anyway, regardless to whether they participated or not.
Don’t Let Your Good Deed Go Unrewarded
If you are concerned that your employer is engaging in fraudulent activities that are directly hurting the federal government, you can take action without worrying about unjust repercussions, and you may even be financially rewarded in the end. Contact our complex litigation lawyers at Sacks Weston LLC today to start filing a proper qui tam case!