Contact our Georgia national whistleblower lawyers today. Call us at 770-643-1606

Can a Whistleblower Law Firm Help Me in a Defense Contract Fraud Case?

whistleblower law firm

whistleblower law firmMany do not understand the purpose and capabilities of a whistleblower law firm. Not only do whistleblower attorneys have the ability to defend in qui tam cases, but such lawyers can also serve as a fortification in instances where defense contract fraud exists.

About Defense Contract Fraud

Defense contract fraud occurs when a private entity sells faulty goods to the government at ridiculously high marked prices. Selling cheap weaponry for three times its worth to armed forces could fall under defense fraud.  For example, if the seller intentionally invoiced the items at above market price for the sole purpose of making an additional profit.

Rules regarding contracts between government entities and private companies were first put in the books during the Civil War. It was during this time that the uniform store that the armed forces used to clothe its men began using cheap fabric that did not endure the pressures of war. The company charged the government prices that one would pay for quality fabric all while using material that easily ripped. As a result, executives in parliament added a section to the False Claims Act that sought to protect and reward citizens who blew the whistle on companies that operated under such unfair practices.

Determining a Case for Fraud with a Whistleblower Law Firm

Typically a contracted company will attempt to take advantage of its government agency agrements in one of three ways:

  1. The company will cross-charge the agency. Instead of simply invoicing a flat fee for services, a business may charge a standard fee plus hourly wages. Companies that operate this way tell employees to log time after charging the government fees that are meant to cover hourly wages.
  2. The business will substitute products. Such substitutions tend to be at the expense of the government. Instead of using a high-quality material as stipulated in the agreement, the company will cut corners to save money. The government, in essence, suffers due to paying more money for products that will last half the time.
  3. The business will not properly allocate time spent between working for the government and another company. This form of defense contract fraud usually occurs when the project requires a partnership between the government and a corporation. Instead of recording time spent working for the two entities separately, the company in question may invoice the government for all hours worked. Such action leaves the government paying for the entire job even though another company shared in expenses incurred.

The Importance of the Whistleblower in Defense Contract Fraud

Millions of taxpayer dollars go to companies that use devious practices to receive pay from the government. An individual who sounds the alarm on such practices saves the country money.  They also assist in helping funds go to more deserving programs in defense. A whistleblower law firm can help in fighting fraud by connecting citizens with experienced counsel that can conduct thorough research.

Are you aware of defense contract fraud and need to know how to proceed? Learn more about what whistleblower law firms can do for you by contacting Bothwell Law Group today.

How Do I Prepare for a Meeting With False Claims Act Attorneys?

False Claims Act Attorneys

False Claims Act AttorneysPreparing for a meeting with False Claims Act attorneys is a big item on your to-do list if you think you may have a whistleblowing case. It’s important that you carefully prepare before you walk into the office. Read on to learn what you can expect from the meeting and how you should plan for it.

What Do False Claims Act Attorneys Do?

Everyone knows there are many different types of lawyers. There are real estate attorneys and trial lawyers, tax attorneys, and criminal attorneys. Then there are False Claims Act lawyers. Knowing what this segment of the law is about will help you understand how to prepare for your meeting.

The truth is we live in a world where people are willing to cheat to make money. The government doesn’t like it when people try to trick them. In fact, the government will give you a reward if you bring them information about a fraud being committed against them by your company. They will pay a percentage of the recovery in a False Claims Act suit; also known as whistleblowing.

There are several different types of false claims suits:

There are also different ways of committing the fraud, from charging for things never provided to a patient in a clinic but billing Medicare or Medicaid, to using inferior materials on a government contract. There are many different ways people in various industries commit the crimes.

False Claims Act procedures include a lot of variables. It’s important you have an experienced attorney who focuses solely on this type of law.  The only way the government will intervene and take on the case you present is if the information crosses the threshold of truth and evidence. When the potential for gain is possibly millions of dollars, you need an attorney who has been in these particular trenches and knows how to take on the situation without looking back.

What Do I Bring with Me to Meet My False Claims Act Lawyer?

The reward in whistleblower cases ranges from 15% to 30% of the recovery, so the potential for millions is real. It won’t come easy. But with proper preparation, you help your attorney do everything within the law to present the case to the federal government.

Here are some things you can do to help make the case:

  • Keep some notes. Don’t keep them at work. Detail where documents are stored. Note where the computer files are saved. You can’t take the proof with you, but you can explain exactly where it is. The government will investigate anonymously, and your notes give them a road map.
  • Now is the time to name names. You need to list every person involved or have knowledge of the fraud. Are they friendly to the crime or justice? Do they still work there or have they been fired. The details are the breadcrumbs.
  • Talk about the big guys and what they do. Detail how the structure of the corporation under accusation works.
  • This detailed journal is where you list all the rules and laws you think were broken. Don’t be afraid to write it out. If you know things that might hurt the case or if you have a history of your own that is questionable, you need to tell that as well. If the case gets blindsided because you withheld something embarrassing, there are no second chances. Each instance of whistleblowing is limited to the first person who brings it to the government, known as the original source.

False Claims Act Attorneys Will Work to Protect You

There can be a real fear of retaliation when you consider bringing a False Claims Act to court. The law provides protection against these things. It is illegal for you to lose your job or put up with harassment. You can’t lose wages or recognition and promotions as a result of being a whistleblower.

Having an attorney who is familiar with the fear and retaliation common in these cases is valuable. Knowing your rights and having the legal backup to stand up for them is powerful. It is not uncommon, though, for it to be quite frightening at the same time. A False Claims Act attorney is an advocate who walks alongside you during this time.

If you think you may have knowledge of a False Claims Act fraud, you need to speak with an attorney. Contact the skilled False Claims Act attorneys at Bothwell Law Group by calling 770.643.1606 today.

How Common Is False Claims Act Retaliation and Should I Be Concerned?

False Claims Act Retaliation

False Claims Act RetaliationAre you looking for information about False Claims Act retaliation? The Federal Claims Act (FCA) allows anyone to bring what is called a “qui tam” action in federal court against wrongdoers, on behalf of the U.S. government. The only requirement in order to bring this action is that the person bringing the suit must have knowledge of action taken by an individual or organization to fraudulently or falsely collect payment from the U.S. government.

The so-called “whistleblower” provisions of the FCA provide financial incentives for people to come forward with evidence of wrongdoing because often the people closest to the fraud can detect it earlier, and with more success than the government could do.

As discussed in previous blog posts, the criminal FCA provides for substantial penalties and sanctions for violators. The government recognized that this could create scenarios where people are afraid to report violations because of potential retaliation, so Section 3730(h) of the FCA includes provisions designed to protect whistleblowers from retaliatory actions by their current or former employers, as discussed more fully below.

How Are Employees Protected Against Retaliation from their Employers under the FCA?

Section 3730(h) of the FCA reads in part:

“Any employee who is discharged, demoted, suspended threatened, harassed, or in any other manner discriminated against in the terms and conditions of employment by his or her employer, because of lawful acts done by the employee on behalf of the employee or others in furtherance of a [qui tam action], including investigation for, initiation of, testimony for, or assistance in a [qui tam] action filed or to be filed … shall be entitled to all relief necessary to make the employee whole.”

In that section, the FCA lays the foundation that employees or former employees bringing qui tam actions are entitled to relief. That relief is then specified in the sentences that follow:

“Such relief shall include reinstatement … two times the amount of back pay, interest … compensation for any special damages … including litigation costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees … An employee may bring an action in the appropriate district court of the United States for the relief provided in this subsection.”

These broad financial incentives are intended to make employees more comfortable bringing qui tam actions and put employers on notice that retaliatory action of any kind will result in stiff penalties.

What Types of Whistleblower Activities Are Protected?

Not all conduct is protected under the whistleblower protection provisions. In making the determination, courts will assess whether:

  1. The employee in good faith believes that the employer is committing fraud against the government; and
  1. A reasonable employee in the same or similar circumstances might believe that the employer is committing fraud against the government.

The whistleblower must also prove that he or she was engaged in protected conduct and that he or she was discriminated against because of the protected conduct.

“Protected conduct” means the employee was doing something to stop or limit FCA violations. This can mean filing a whistleblower qui tam case, but it can also just mean that the employee investigated and/or reported suspicions of fraudulent activity.

When an employee brings a retaliation claim, employers will generally try to narrow the scope of the whistleblower retaliation provision. However, Congress’ original goal and ultimate purpose of section 3730(h) are to stop employers from silencing whistleblowers. Courts reviewing whistleblower actions look at them through this lens and interpret “protected activity” and “protected conduct” broadly.

Whistleblower Protection Is not Automatic

Employees should know, while the law provides protection for them from retaliation by their employers, protection is not automatic, nor is it pre-emptive. So, an employer could very well terminate or take other action against an employee initially. The employee will have to prove the circumstances meet the requirements of the whistleblower retaliation provisions of the FCA in order to prevail.

While there is always the possibility an employer will take retaliatory action against an employee who reported a violation of the FCA, the Act’s provisions protecting whistleblowers are a major deterrent for such retaliatory actions.

At the end of the day, someone who knows or suspects a violation has occurred has a legal and ethical obligation to report the violation. Thanks to the whistleblower protection provisions of the FCA, employees don’t need to fear financial ruin for doing the right thing.

Find out what you need to know about False Claims Act retaliation by calling our legal team at 770.643.1606. Our experienced attorneys at Bothwell Law Group exclusively represent whistleblowers’ interests.

What Is the Whistleblower Act and Who Does It Protect?

What Is the Whistleblower Act

What Is the Whistleblower ActWhat is the Whistleblower Act? The law was enacted in 1989.  The intent to protect anyone working for the federal government who decides to report government agency misconduct.

The Whistleblower Act of 1989 states that only certain offices and judges have the right to hear cases related to whistleblowing. The federal Office of Special Counsel investigates the claims brought under this Act. This counsel is a dedicated legal branch that only reviews federal whistleblowing cases and nothing else.

The Merit System Protection Board is the primary forum in which claims are heard and adjudicated.  Administrative law judges make decisions for these claims. The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit is the authority that reviews any appeals from the Merit System Protection Board.  However, the appeals tend to be few and far between.

Recent Changes Redefine the Whistleblower Act

The 1989 Act addressed any disclosure of wrongdoing, particularly material or informational, that the reporting party felt was a violation of not just law but an act of gross resource waste, fraud, inefficiency or a threat to the public. This broad definition covered a wide scope of issues related to whistleblowing and fraud.

Early on, many cases were dismissed or deemed unprotected by the Act in court application of the Law. This triggered eventual revisions to broaden the scope of protection. The 1989 Act was augmented by additional law under the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012. This revision added a number of protections for employees, who are involved in the military and intelligence community, and fear retaliation due to their agency’s unique work that tends to be secret, confidential, and restricted. However, this new Act was time-limited through 2014.

Whistleblower Act Protections

In application, a claimant wanting to pursue a whistleblower protection lawsuit first needs to have been an employee of the federal Executive Branch during the time when the incident occurred. There must have been some kind of reporting by the person of perceived wrongdoing, and there needs to be an act of retaliation against the employee due to the reporting. In other words, a person who reported a problem and never experienced retaliation cannot win a claim for injury when one did not occur.

It’s also important to understand, there are other statutory provisions that allow for whistleblower recovery. The Federal False Claims Act allows the ability to sue and recover damages for the government in the case that the government doesn’t want to pursue the claim itself. OSHA also applies whistleblower protections under labor laws, and states have their own statutes for additional rights and recoveries.

If you are wading through information to answer your question “What is the Whistleblower Act?” you don’t have to process through it all alone. Contact our team at Bothwell Law Group to get additional information today.

Understanding the Basics of the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989

Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989

Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989The Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 shields government employees who report unfair practices in management. The act was created when whistleblowers dealt with intimidation in the workplace after reporting fraudulent activity taking place in their division. Many of these individuals were forced to quit, if not fired, shortly after bringing injustices to light. There have been modifications to the law since its inception, but the basics of the act remain the same.

What the Whistleblower Act Does

The Whistleblower Act of 1989 ensures protection from threats. The Act prohibits a government entity from threatening an employee who has disclosed incriminating information with termination or any other disciplinary action solely because of what has been reported. If a government division violates this rule, the whistleblower can sue for damages in the case that the court determines the employee received legitimate threats.

Changes to the Whistleblower Act in 2012

President Barack Obama made changes to the Whistleblower Act in October 2012. Such revisions, recognized as the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012, gave individuals working for intelligence agencies in government more leeway when reporting unfair practices. These people were sworn to secrecy prior to the enhancement act of 2012 because of the sensitivity of their work.

Some individuals in management took advantage of the conditions and threatened employees with disciplinary action despite the initial Whistleblower Act of 1989 being in full effect. President Obama’s additions ensure that today all government employees receive the opportunity to report unfair practices without fear of being reprimanded.

More Whistleblower Changes in 2014 and Beyond

On July 14, 2014, the House of Representatives voted to pass the All Circuit Extension Act. The bill sought to extend the judicial review time for Merit Systems Protection Board decisions in whistleblower cases.

Additionally, several senators presented the idea of including the FBI Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act with the 1989 whistleblower law. These reforms give FBI employees more protection when reporting corruption in the department. Under the proposed bill, whistleblowers within the Bureau will be assigned administrative law judges who adjudicate cases and ensure no intimidation is taking place. Supervisors who violate a whistleblower’s rights would be reprimanded more quickly since designated judges would be assigned to individual cases.

Why the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 Is Necessary

Whistleblowers often endure harassment in the workplace after reporting unfair practices. While it is true that a company cannot terminate an individual for disclosing information, management can always find ways to make a person’s job more difficult.

Assigning additional work and embarrassing the whistleblower in front of co-workers are two of many tactics that supervisors use when attempting to “get back” at employees for speaking out. It is, therefore, necessary to have the Whistleblower Act in place and continually revised to ensure protection and contribute to a stress-free work environment.

What a Whistleblower Attorney Can Do for You

An experienced attorney brings years of experience and research tactics that can contribute to a successful case. A whistleblower lawyer will devote immeasurable time and effort to ensure the whistleblower is fully protected and rightly compensated for his actions.

Want to know more about your rights under the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989? Contact our team at Bothwell Law Group online.

Debunking the Myths Surrounding Whistleblower Law Firms

whistleblower law firms

whistleblower law firmsWhen it comes to whistleblower law firms or even litigation firms in general, there are a variety of baseless myths that have sprung up. We’ve rounded up a few of the most common ones, and offered you a fact-based rebuttal for each.

Myth 1: We encourage frivolous litigation.

This is perhaps the most obvious myth, arising from the impression the U.S. has become an overly litigious society in recent decades. While it may certainly be true for some forms of litigation, it makes zero sense for whistleblower law firms. And here’s why.

We, the law firm, are paid almost entirely out of the successful recovery amount. Put another way, we don’t always get paid if we don’t win. It would be against our own best interest to take weak qui tam lawsuits and push them through the system because it’s unlikely they would succeed. And no success means the bills don’t get paid.

While this particular myth may apply to other areas of the law, it does not apply to whistleblower law firms.

Myth 2: Qui Tam suits are glorified contract disputes.

No, no, no. A thousand times, no. Contract disputes often focus on the quality of goods supplied, or the failure to meet sufficient standards in materials or service delivery as outlined in a contract. In well-negotiated contracts, there are clear avenues of recourse and remediation for these instances, and the court need only enforce them.

A qui tam suit is an entirely different beast. These lawsuits are specifically focused on fraudulent activity bilking the government out of money. The result is a chain of evidence and requirement of proof extending far beyond the basics of simple quality assessment. Often it includes documents, statements, and forensic accounting, just to name a few. The standard of proof is much higher, as is the amount of evidence required.

Myth 3: Qui Tam lawsuits are simple.

The government has certainly made headlines the past few years, garnering billions of dollars in recovered monies, and highlighting cases where whistleblowers received an extensive reward as a result of their information and False Claims filing. The news cycle, while impressive, is a pure public relations play. The government needs people to come forward and report fraud. Touting it as a rewarding, easy and simple experience means more individuals are likely to come forward in an effort to get their own (hopefully large) piece of the pie.

The truth is these cases require an extensive burden of proof, have stringent limitations on the procedures and protocols associated with filing, and can take several years to reach a successful conclusion. Any one of those factors would push these cases beyond “simple”, but the combination of all three makes matters downright complicated.

All that being said, they can certainly be worth the time and effort to see them through to completion. However, we believe clients should enter into the process with open eyes, and realistic expectations regarding how it will unfold over time.

In Need of a Whistleblower Law Firm to Guide You?

If you’re looking for an experienced whistleblower law firm, contact our team at Bothwell Law Group by calling 770.643.1606 today.

Who Handles the Qui Tam Claims Process, and Where Do I Start If I Have One?

Qui Tam Claims Process

Qui Tam Claims ProcessThe qui tam claims process can be a complex exercise. Every case is unique and needs to be handled in a slightly different way. The process is also very specific; any variations or deviations from the appropriate procedure can end your suit before it even starts.

With this in mind, we’ve gone ahead and outlined some general guidance for processing qui tam cases, as well as advice to potential whistleblowers on where they should start. We hope you find it useful in your investigation!

Where to Start: Hiring a Whistleblower Law Firm

Remember when we said qui tam cases were complex and unique? They play by an entirely different set of rules than regular litigation, requiring a law firm with the skill, experience, and know-how to ensure you have the best possible chance of reaching a successful conclusion.

Once you’ve settled on a few prospective firms, look at each one carefully and assess them based on the following:

  • Experience in similar cases
  • Understanding of the particulars of your case
  • Honest and thorough assessment of your prospects
  • Clear outline and understanding of next steps and how to proceed
  • A good working rapport between the two of you

All of these will be critical to successfully surviving what’s to come.

Next Up: Building the Narrative and Filing Suit

This step is where your legal team will document all the information available, and begin crafting it into a graphic and compelling story. The goal is to send a persuasive argument and abundance of initial proof to the government, sparking further investigation. Depending on the strength of the material and content, the government will then decide whether to take over the case themselves, or let you proceed further on your own.

Further Investigation and Interviews in Your Whistleblower Case

Once the complaint is filed, your attorneys will continue to gather evidence, monitor the case progress, and work with the Department of Justice to keep your case moving along. This will likely include an interview between the whistleblower and the government, where the government will determine how effective and compelling the individual’s story is. The right legal team will help you prep for the occasion, and be with you every step of the way.

Patience and the Waiting Game for Whistleblowers

Whistleblower cases can take years to develop. During this time, you will be prohibited from talking to anyone about the case, outside of the government, your legal team, and anyone else sanctioned by the DOJ. In general, you can expect to wait up to two years for the government to make an ultimate determination regarding whether or not they will take over the case – also called intervening or joining.

If they decide not to join, you and your attorneys will need to make a decision regarding whether or not you wish to press forward with your case anyway. An experienced attorney should be able to tell you what the odds are, and make a recommendation that’s in both parties’ best interests.

Going to Court with Your Whistleblower Case

If you decide to go to trial, the court case will proceed normally from this point on. At the end of the process, the court will rule on whether your case is valid, and also the percentage of the recovery to which you will be entitled.

Good luck!

Want to Learn More about the Qui Tam Claims Process?

You can find out more about the qui tam claims process by contacting Bothwell Law Group online. We’ll be happy to answer your questions as you make your decision about moving forward with your claim.