Written by Ravi Sattiraju on January 28, 2019
When a federal contractor defrauds the government, that contractor is liable for the damages they cause. Often, these acts of fraud come to light because brave employees speak up and take legal action against their employers. These lawsuits are known as qui tam lawsuits, and the individuals who file them are known as qui tam relators.
If you know your employer has acted in a way that violates the False Claims Act, you can file a qui tam lawsuit on behalf of the federal government and potentially recover a portion of the damages awarded. These are a qui tam relator’s responsibilities when working through this process:
Gather and Provide All Relevant Evidence to Support your Claim
As a qui tam relator, your primary responsibility is to gather a sufficient amount of evidence to support the claim you make against your employer. This includes all financial documents, relevant photographs, and records of services performed. Your claim is only as strong as the body of evidence you provide to support it.
Act in Good Faith
Always act in good faith. This means you should only make statements that you know to be true and act upon your reasonable belief that your employer has done wrong. Filing this type of lawsuit in an effort to “get back” at your employer for mistreatment will ultimately backfire on you, and falsifying or embellishing information in an effort to make your claim stronger will actually undermine it, potentially leading to a ruling in the employer’s favor.
Be Honest About your Role in the Wrongdoing
When the court rules in favor of the government and awards compensation for its damages, the relator is may be entitled to a share of the damages. The percentage of the damages he or she is entitled to receive depends on whether the federal government got involved in the case and whether the relator was partially responsible for the fraud.
Do not lie about your role in the fraud in an effort to increase the amount of compensation to are able to recover. This can potentially render you unable to recover anything.
Assert your Rights as a Whistleblower
Even if you were involved in your employer’s wrongdoing, you have the right to file a qui tam claim without fear of facing retaliation. This is true whether you are still employed with the company or not. This right is guaranteed by the False Claims Act, and all acts of good faith whistleblowing are protected from retaliation by the Whistleblower Protection Act. If you face retaliation after taking action, discuss your experience with an experienced employment lawyer to determine your legal options for recourse.
Work with an Experienced New Jersey False Claims and Qui Tam Lawyer
As a whistleblower, you have rights. And as a qui tam relator, you have certain specific rights, including the right to recover a portion of the damages paid for the lawsuit you file. To learn more about these rights and your legal options when your employer is taking illegal and unethical actions, schedule your initial consultation with an experienced employment lawyer at Sattiraju Law Firm, P.C.