Whistleblower & Qui Tam Litigation

Our experienced attorneys protect you when your employer breaks the law.

Whistleblower & Qui Tam Litigation

What do you do when your paycheck depends on breaking the law? Report your employer with the help of an experienced whistleblower attorney.

State and federal law protect you from retaliation for raising concerns about your employer's illegal conduct. Whether you stand up for your right to legal wages or working conditions or call attention to illegal conduct by your company or co-workers, you are protected from retaliation by your employer. Often, employers terminate or otherwise discipline whistleblowers for being "troublemakers" or for other pretextual reasons. This is illegal, and our experienced whistleblower protection attorneys can help you assert your rights.

If your employer is defrauding the government, you may be able to bring suit on behalf of the government to recover for the false and fraudulent claims. These actions are called "qui tam" actions, meaning you sue on behalf of the state. Whistleblowers in qui tam suits may be entitled to between 15 and 30 percent of the government's total recovery.

Illegal conduct at work is extremely common, yet many employees fear reporting it or resisting their employer's demands. Indeed, a 2007 survey found that 56% of employees reported witnessing fraud or illegal conduct at work. Imagine how much less fraud there would be if everyone who knew of it spoke up.

Am I a Whistleblower?

A whistleblower is someone who learns of illegal activity and reports it, either internally or to government agencies. The illegal conduct does not need to be occurring at your employer; for instance, you could learn that a client or subcontractor is commiting fraud and suffer retaliation for reporting it. You would be a whistleblower in this situation.

Whistleblowers have been protected by law for hundreds of years. In California, a number of laws protect whistleblowers. Our top whistleblower attorneys can help you determine if you are a whistleblower. We encourage you to contact us for a free case review if you would like to talk through your situation and better understand your rights.

Types of Whistleblower Cases

Whistleblowers report a wide variety of misconduct, so there are many types of whistleblower cases.

Data Privacy & Security Whistleblowers

As regulators catch up to the new data-driven economy, an increasing number of laws govern personal data collected or maintained by tech companies, health insurers, financial services firms, and government contractors. Companies can be slow to come into compliance with these rules, and well-intentioned employees often meet internal resistance for explaining that their employer is breaking the law.

While the California Consumer Privacy Act does not contain any specific whistleblower protections--attempts to include such provisions were struck by industry lobbyists--existing law protects employeers who complain about illegal conduct at work. If your employer retaliates against you for challenging data privacy or security practices, you may have a claim for wrongful demotion or wrongful termination in violation of public policy.

Insurance Fraud Whistleblowers

Fraud against private insurance companies is bad for everyone: it makes premiums rise and allows wrongdoers to profit from their intentional misconduct. California has enacted a special whistleblower protection law to address this problem. This law also prohibits retaliation by employers whose employees complain of insurance fraud violations.

California's insurance fraud law provides treble damages and additional penalties. Eligible whistleblowers can receive a percentage of the overall amount recovered by the government.

Fraud under the California insurance fraud law includes:

  • Falsely inflating the amount of a loss
  • Submitting fake bills for services not actually performed
  • Paying kickbacks to doctors in exchange for referrals or prescribing certain drugs
  • Failing to disclose information that would make the loss ineligible for coverage

Whistleblowers under this law file a sealed complaint in court and provide the complaint to the relevant regulators. Government prosecutors can then choose to intervene and prosecute the case. If they do, the whistleblower usually receives around 30% of the amount recovered. If the government does not intervene, the whistleblower usually keeps between 40 and 50% of the recovery.

Tax Whistleblowers

Employees in finance and accounting often learn that their employer is committing tax fraud. The federal Tax Relief and Health Care Act provides whistleblower rewards to those who report tax fraud where the amount in dispute exceeds $2 million. The IRS has paid over $500 million in whistleblower rewards under this program.

Medicare Whistleblowers

Medicare whistleblowers usually work in health care and include doctors, nurses, CNS, other nursing home or senior care center staff, hospice workers, billing clerks, pharmaceutical employees, and other healthcare professionals and workers in allied health fields.

Medicare whistleblowers report a variety of illegal conduct, including:

  • Billing for services that were never provided
  • "Upcoding" or charging for more expensive services instead of the less expensive services that were actually provided
  • Prescribing unnecessary services just to bill for them
  • Marketing drugs for "off-label" uses by pharmaceutical companies
  • Paying kickbacks to doctors and other medical professionals for referring clients or prescribing certain drugs or services

Medicare whistleblowers typically bring claims under the federal False Claims Act, the most successful government whistleblower program of our time. Under the False Claims Act, the government has recovered over $38 billion of taxpayer money that was lost to fraud. Whistleblowers may be entitled to 15-30% of the government's recovery.

Government Contractor Whistleblowers

State and federal agencies dole out billions of dollars of contracts each year based on information submitted in bid proposals by government contractors. These contractors provide services ranging from manufacturing and distributing military equipment and providing food services for military or other government projects to manufacturing and distributing medication under government healthcare programs.

Government contractors defraud the government and taxpayers by doing any of the following:

  • Providing substandard services or services other than those contracted for during the bid process
  • Failing to disclose illegal bribes during the bidding or contract administration process
  • Failing to disclose illegal kickbacks paid to subcontractors or other market participants
  • "Padding" bills or charging for more expensive services instead of less expensive services actually rendered
  • Submitting false or forged certifications
  • Submitting knowingly inflated or false bills for services to the governemnt
  • Any other knowingly false or fraudulent practices intended to defraud the government

Whistleblowers are entitled to reinstatement to their position (if they were demoted, suspended, terminated, etc. for whistleblowing), double back pay, interest, compensatory damages, and attorneys' fees and costs. They may also have claims under the False Claims Act and be entitled to a whistleblower reward based on their report of illegal conduct.

Wrongful Termination Claims Due to Whistleblowing

In California, employees who are terminated for complaining about illegal conduct or reporting illegal activity to law enforcement or regulators are protected by multiple laws.

Labor Code § 1102.5 provides that employers cannot retaliate against you for reporting conduct you reasonably believe to be unlawful to others at the company (for instance, for complaining to Human Resources or calling a whistleblower hotline) or to a government agency. Section 1102.5 also prohibits employers from retaliating against you because you refuse to participate in illegal conduct. If you are terminated because you reported illegal conduct internally or to law enforcement, or because you simply refused to participate personally in the illegal conduct.

In addition, people who are terminated for complaining about illegal conduct may have a claim for "wrongful termination in violation of public policy."

How a Whistleblower Attorney Can Help

Whistleblower cases implicate a variety of complicated issues that make it best to consult with an attorney early on. An experienced whistleblower rights attorney can help you understand how to collect documents to prove the illegal conduct; how to approach complaining to your employer; and how to present your information to law enforcement. These decisions can be stressful on your own, and an experienced attorney can alleviate the uncertainty by providing guidance through these complexities.

A lawyer will also help you understand the law governing your employer's illegal activity. They will investigate and determine whether your complaints are "protected," meaning whether there is a reasonable likelihood your employer is breaking the law or whether your complaint was made in good faith.

A lawyer will also help you initiate your claim with the appropriate agencies and represent you in any government proceedings. We do everything we can to help our clients maximize the value of their claims. If you are still employed while making complaints, we can help protect you from retaliation.

Our lawyers have worked on whistleblower and False Claims Act cases against some of the biggest government contractors. We are passsionate about representing whistleblowers; it is an honor to represent workers brave enough to resist a culture of misconduct and do the right thing.

Learn more
Set up a consultation to learn more about your rights. 100% free. 

Thanks for submitting!

  • jbk super lawyers.png
  • cela logo.png
  • ejs super lawyers.png
  • caala-logo.jpg
  • jls super lawyers.png
Schedule a FREE consultation

You need to understand your rights before you can stand up for your rights. Empower yourself with a free consultation.