What Should You Do If Your Employer Is Committing A Crime?
If you've recently become aware that your employer is engaged in illegal or fraudulent conduct, you're probably wondering about your next steps. Fortunately, a number of protections exist for employees who report their employer's fraud (also known as "whistleblowers"). Read on to learn more about the protection -- and even profit -- that can result from blowing the whistle on your employer.
What should you do if your employer is defrauding a government program?
The federal False Claims Act (FCA) is the government's primary means of tackling fraud. The FCA permits private individuals (who are called "relators") to submit claims about an individual or organization that has committed one or more fraudulent acts against the government. Most commonly, the FCA is used by employees to report their employers' misconduct -- whether this is a medical office employee reporting routine Medicare overbilling, or a highway contractor reporting false payments to subcontractors. In some cases, a non-employee who merely suspects fraud can report this fraud under the FCA.
Not only does the FCA help protect whistleblowing employees from being disciplined or fired based on their report, it can provide an additional cash incentive to these employees. If the government is able to recover some of the funds that were fraudulently obtained, you will receive between 15 to 25 percent of these funds as a reward for your brave reporting. These funds will be taxed as regular income during the year in which you receive payment.
How can you file a claim under the FCA?
If you're aware that your employer is committing fraud against a government program, you should first gather all the evidence to which you immediately have access (such as proof of payments, bills, or other documents) and store this in a secure location. You should then contact an attorney who has experience in handling these types of federal claims. Attorneys like those at the Law Offices of Craig Weintraub will organize this evidence and file a complaint with the federal district court. This complaint is filed under seal, and the defendant is not notified, so at this point your employer will have no idea that a complaint was filed, and should be unable to take any action against you.
During the next few weeks (or even months), the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) will investigate the claim. If the DOJ finds that your claim has merit, the case is opened and your employer is provided notice of the complaint so that it can respond. However, your employer is still not notified that you are the person who made the complaint. If the federal court finds that your employer has committed fraud, it will enter a monetary judgment against your employer. Once your employer has satisfied this judgment, you will receive your bounty.