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Fraud is a major problem for every level of government. And the federal government is no exception. The federal government loses billions of dollars annually due to fake financial transactions, false and misleading statements, and bogus claims. The False Claims Act reduces fraud and benefits citizens by empowering them to make qui tam suits.

In a qui tam, or private citizen, lawsuit, an ordinary person files a lawsuit on behalf of the United States government against a private company. If the suit is successful, the citizen-turned-whistleblower enjoys a significant financial reward for their efforts. Many companies will not hesitate to retaliate against these brave whistleblowers. But the False Claims Act also provides crucial legal protections for whistleblowers. To learn more about how the law provides retaliation protection for whistleblowing, contact one of our San Francisco whistleblower lawyers today.  

Is Whistleblowing a Crime?

Not at all. Whistleblowers are not criminals. They are heroes that make society better for all of us. The government is well aware of this, so it encourages whistleblowing that reveals fraud through the False Claims Act. In fact, if a private citizen brings a qui tam lawsuit on behalf of the government and is triumphant, the government will give the whistleblower a financial reward. Specifically, the qui tam plaintiff will receive between 15% and 25% of the government’s award if the Department of Justice intervenes in the suit. If the DOJ does not intervene and the plaintiff prosecutes the case alone, they can recover up to 30% of the government’s recovery. The exact amount depends on several factors. But the whistleblower’s share of the recovery can easily total millions of dollars. 

Understanding Retaliation Protection for Whistleblowers

Aside from financial compensation, the False Claims Act provides retaliation protection for whistleblowers. This means that employers cannot harm or penalize the whistleblower because of their disclosure. The courts refer to significant acts of retaliation as “adverse actions.” Adverse actions encompass a wide variety of situations. Some of the most common adverse actions include:

  • Being fired or demoted;
  • Receiving threats or harassment;
  • Losing important work tasks or access to certain information;
  • Facing workplace discipline, like suspension, reprimands, and counseling;
  • Receiving extra work or tasks; and
  • Being exposed to demeaning verbal comments (like being called a “snitch” or “rat”).

These are only a few of the more common forms of workplace retaliation against whistleblowers, but there are many others. If you are experiencing what you think is whistleblower retaliation, take action. Contact an experienced whistleblower attorney right away. 

I don't have words to thank you the king and Siegel team worked so hard on my case during the pandemic and I am so grateful and proud of my outcome with them. They are reasonable and reliable. Those you can trust .. everytime I had a question they would answer it I recommend them 100 percent.. am so thankful for the team .. my worries and stress are over .. a huge weight over my shoulder was lifted and was able to help my family during this hard time thank you so much king and Siegel team..
Vanessa Ponce
Vanessa Ponce
March 8, 2022
I was really nervous about hiring a lawyer but Julian and everyone in her office made the process as stress-free as it could be. She is kind, reassuring and confident and that helps make the process feel less scary. she also knows what kinds of outcomes are reasonable and will explain in detail why, and has a plan to get there. I cannot recommend her more highly.
Ines Martinez
Ines Martinez
March 8, 2022
I had the pleasure of being represented by this wonderful office and their attorneys! They were very quick about answering any questions and most times explained things so well that my questions were answered before I got the chance to ask them. I had an amazing experience, everyone is kind and very attentive to your wants and needs. A case can be very stressful and they did a great job at keeping me sane and comfortable through the entire process. I recommend them 100%.
Adrianna Sells
Adrianna Sells
October 25, 2021
This in an incredibly professional and responsive firm. There was an ease about getting initial information, scheduling, and working with their talented team. While I found it to be true of everyone that I encountered here, it was Julian Burns King that really went above and beyond. Her expertise, experience, and knowledge of employment law and its many facets coupled with her empathy and compassion for her clients, is truly one of a kind. I would absolutely recommend King & Siegel to anyone in need of legal advice or representation.
Jeri Mares
Jeri Mares
October 12, 2021
Everyone at this firm was so helpful, supportive, and nice. The settlement I got changed my life and working with them was as good as a lawsuit could possibly be. I am so glad I found them for my wrongful termination suit.
Evelyn A
Evelyn A
September 25, 2021
I’m glad I trusted the team of King & Seigel to handle my case they are the definition of professionalism. They were honest and very upfront with the process and kept me informed every step of the way not to mention I’m more than happy with the results. Thank you again to the team of King and Seigel.
Ramon Rodriguez
Ramon Rodriguez
December 9, 2020
Julian & Elliot are very good lawyers and I am glad I trusted them with my case. When I hired attorneys, I didn't know what to look for, but I am glad I found them. They were always attentive to my case and I never felt lost even though I did not have any prior experience with litigation. Ultimately, they got a result I was happy with and I am so glad I had them to help me put this experience behind me. You would be lucky to have them in your corner.
Ryan J
Ryan J
August 5, 2020
I would like to thank this amazing duo and their staff for taking care of my friend and I. They were patient and polite, very prompt, and always professional! Thank you all so much! 💜
Yanni Boo
Yanni Boo
July 15, 2020

Who Does the False Claims Act Consider a Whistleblower?

Any individual or organization that investigates or reports a violation of the False Claim Act is considered a “relator” (or whistleblower) under the Act. The most common whistleblower scenario involves an employee of a private company who makes disclosures about wrongdoing by that company. To qualify for whistleblower protection, the individual needs to report wrongdoing that targets the United States government. Reporting fraud against another private citizen would not count. Fraudulent actions that fall under the False Claims Act include things like: 

  • Overcharging the government for a product or service;
  • Submitting a claim for payment to the government that makes false statements or certifications;
  • Providing the government with defective or marginal products and then demanding full payment; or
  • Fraudulently applying for a government contract.

An individual aware of actions violating the False Claims Act can initiate a qui tam action in federal court. However, the law does not require that an employee file a False Claims Act to qualify as a whistleblower. 

What Do I Have to Prove to Win My Retaliation Case?

To prevail in a False Claims Act case, the qui tam plaintiff must prove three things:

  • They engaged in protected activity. Protected activity can include not only reporting a False Claims Act violation but also investigating a potential violation.
  • Their employer (or another party) took adverse action against them. As we stated before, “adverse action” is a broad term that includes just about every form of negative workplace action.
  • The adverse action was motivated in part or completely by the protected activity. This means you can win your case even if your employer shows it had other reasons for taking action against you besides your protected activity. 

If you prevail in your case, you can receive many forms of relief. Potential damages you can recover include back pay, restoration of your position, damages for emotional distress and your reputation, and your legal costs.

Blowing the whistle is a scary thought for many employees. Yet whistleblowers should never fear retaliation for their brave actions because the law protects them. In fact, a whistleblower can receive significant financial compensation for their disclosures. The law also entitles them to compensation for any losses they suffer because of whistleblower retaliation. But if you are considering filing a qui tam lawsuit or are experiencing whistleblower retaliation, you need legal help. Contacting a qualified and experienced San Francisco whistleblower attorney is crucial to protecting your career and well-being.

Here at King & Siegel, we have an outstanding team of San Francisco whistleblower lawyers dedicated to protecting those courageous souls who become whistleblowers. We recognize that whistleblowers do their country and fellow citizens a tremendous service when they bring fraudulent acts to light. And we believe they deserve nothing but the best legal representation. Our team has many years of legal experience protecting whistleblowers throughout the state. We also have an excellent track record with our clients. Take a moment to learn about some of the amazing successes we’ve had for our clients. Even if you’re unsure about moving forward with a lawyer, contact us today. We provide free and confidential case reviews for all potential clients. You can also reach out to us online.

Our experienced legal team also handles other types of employment law cases, including cases surrounding:

  • The Equal Pay Act,
  • Sexual Harassment,
  • Medical & Disability Leave,
  • Stock Disputes,
  • Wrongful Termination,
  • Wage & Hour Violations, and
  • Workplace Retaliation.

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