Houston and Austin Whistleblower Attorney
Whistleblowers serve a very important role in society. These whistleblowers are protecting not only the government, but also taxpayers from both financial fraud and possible danger. To encourage employees to report illegal activity within their workplace, financial fraud, or violations of health and safety, the federal government enacted “whistleblower” laws. These laws mean to protect (and in some cases, compensate) employees who report this type of misconduct. If you have evidence or knowledge of fraudulent activity you want to report, you need an Austin whistle blower attorney.
At Leichter Law, our attorneys specialize in representing employees in cases against their employers. We also represent Texas-based licensed professionals like physicians and nurses rather than the hospitals or large corporations they work for. We’re dedicated to bringing justice for those individuals willing to stand up for their rights, especially in the case of whistleblowing. To schedule your free consultation with our Austin whistleblower lawyers, please call our office at (512) 495-9995 today.
What Is a Whistleblower Lawsuit?
Under the federal whistleblower laws, a whistleblower claim is a type of formal submission that exposes unlawful conduct by an employer. The complaint describes what information an employee has supporting their allegations of fraud or misconduct. With this knowledge, whistleblowers can assist the government in identifying violations like fraud much sooner than what might have been possible without their intel.
There are different kinds of whistleblower complaints depending on the sector or area of employment you fall under. If the misconduct occurred in an area of healthcare, you may have a case under either the federal or state False Claims Act.
Who Qualifies as a Whistleblower?
You may wonder if you qualify for statutory protections afforded to whistleblowers. Depending on the illegal conduct you report, you may qualify as a whistleblower under different laws. A whistleblower can be a public or private employee or even a non-employee. In general, whistleblowers tend to have access to communications and other documents that serve as their evidence for the alleged fraud.
Many whistleblowers receive not only legal protections, but also monetary compensation for their information. In cases of securities fraud or False Claims Act whistleblowers, they may receive as much as 40% of the recovery from the case. However, recoveries and financial incentives often vary from state to state.
At Leichter Law, we pledge to protect employees and protect whistleblowers from retaliation. Very strict requirements exist that employees must meet for whistleblower claims. Whistleblowers receive protections under certain laws, and an Austin employment attorney with our law firm can help you build a strong case.
Texas State and Federal Protections for Whistleblowers
As we mentioned previously, both federal laws and Texas laws afford protections for those filing legitimate whistleblower claims. These laws outline which specific issues afford protection to whistleblowers. Some laws even afford specific protections for federal government employees. If you report an issue related to any of the following, you may receive whistleblower protections.
- Medicaid fraud
- Food and consumer product safety
- Health insurance fraud
- Environmental protections
- Employee safety
- Other financial issues and fraud
- Child abuse
- Patient neglect or abuse
- False statements on financial documents
- False medical billing
Keep in mind that it can be difficult to determine whether or not you qualify for protection in a whistleblower claim. In the following sections, we outline a few of the state and federal laws that offer whistleblower protections.
What Is the Texas Whistleblower Act?
The Texas Whistleblower Act specifically protects any public employee who chooses to report wrongdoing by their employer to the proper authorities. Employers may not retaliate against public employees in any way, including by termination of employment, demotion, suspension, or other adverse actions.
This act encourages employees of government agencies to hold those agencies accountable for their actions. It applies to public employees on both state and local levels. If the whistleblower suffered adverse employment consequences, they are entitled to the following.
- Reinstatement of their position
- Lost wages compensation
- Court and attorney fees
- Limited compensation for other damages
What Forms of Fraud Are Covered by the Whistleblower Act?
Whistleblower laws in Texas apply to a number of fraudulent acts, including healthcare fraud and fraud by local or state government employees. On a federal level, whistleblower cases can cover a much wider range of issues. If you are unsure of whether or not you qualify for whistleblower protections in Texas, contact the Leichter Law Firm today for qualified representation. An experienced lawyer with our firm will ensure that you understand your legal rights.
What Is the Qui Tam False Claims Act?
The False Claims Act is the foundation of the whistleblower system. It is a federal law that makes it illegal for anyone to make a false claim in regards to healthcare programs. This law is the most common one used for whistleblowers seeking to report fraud or misconduct. It enables private citizens to file a complaint against their employer and on behalf of the government. This law also rewards the whistleblowers monetarily in cases where the government is successful in recovering lost funds.
For a complaint to fall under the False Claims Act (FCA), the conduct must have resulted in financial loss for the government. The Act also protects the whistleblower from retribution from their place of employment. It protects employees from all the following forms of retaliation:
- Any other discriminatory manner violating the terms and conditions of employment
Protected activity that falls under the False Claims Act includes any internal reporting of fraudulent or illegal activity to a supervisor. It also protects any efforts made to remedy this illegal activity to avoid an FCA violation. Any other steps taken by the employee to bring forth a qui tam action are also protected.
What Is a Qui Tam Case?
When you hear the words qui tam, this is what is referring to a whistleblower lawsuit that’s brought under the False Claims Act. Qui tam lawsuits are what allow the whistleblowers to receive a percentage of what’s recovered by the government. There are several situations that might prove your eligibility to file a qui tam lawsuit. If you have information that your employer is:
- Committing financial fraud (Medicare, Medicaid, or other healthcare fraud) against the government
- Presenting fraudulent claims to the federal government for payment
- Overbilling or keeping an overpayment for government services
- Abusing government programs or contracts for financial gain
If you have knowledge of these actions of misconduct or others, you may be able to receive financial rewards in a qui tam lawsuit. Additionally, if your employer fired you for filing a complaint, you may be eligible for compensation under the Whistleblower Protection Act.
What Is the Reward for Whistleblowing?
There is often a fear of retaliation that surrounds the idea of whistleblowing, which is why the government provides incentives to those who come forward. Reporting fraud and misconduct allows the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to prevent waste of taxpayer money and to preserve the integrity of U.S. markets and reduce harm to investors. It also allows the government to hold those engaging in unlawful activities accountable for their actions.
Under the False Claims Act, a whistleblower who is successful in bringing forth a qui tam lawsuit may recover monetary rewards. This includes reinstatement, double back pay plus interest, and other special damages. Special damages refers to litigation costs and attorney fees as well as any emotional distress that resulted from the incident.
The amount in awards that the government grants whistleblowers ranges between 10%-30% of money collected, depending on how helpful you are to the investigation and how well your whistleblower lawyer is able to negotiate.
Is There a Time Limit to File Whistleblower Claims?
Yes. Whistleblowers must generally begin qui tam actions within 3 to 10 years, depending on the circumstances. In Texas, the time within which you must bring a claim varies depending on the violation. For example, the Texas Whistleblower Act requires whistleblowers to file their claim within 90 days of the violation. This is a very short period of time, so it is absolutely crucial to work with a whistleblower lawyer for your case.
Compensation for Whistleblower Claims
In successful Texas whistleblower cases, claimants have the right to recover certain financial remedies. However, the state does place a cap on the maximum amount that a whistleblower can receive in a case against a state or local governmental entity. This cap is based on the number of employees that the responsible employer has. These caps are as follows.
- 100 or fewer employees: $50,000
- 101-200 employees: $100,000
- 201-500 employees: $200,000
- 501 or more employees: $250,000
Why Do I Need a Whistleblower Lawyer?
Qui tam lawsuits are an extremely complex legal area. They are unlike any other kind of lawsuit and require skilled representation from a qualified attorney. An experienced whistleblower attorney knows what it takes to represent their client in negotiating the amount of awards if the government recovers damages from the information relayed.
If there are other whistleblowers with the same information, that may ruin your chance for a reward. Whoever is first to file the complaint will generally be the one who recovers the money. That is another reason why you need a whistleblower lawyer, preferably someone who works in a proficient and compelling manner.
In the event that you’re retaliated against for sounding the alarm, you will also need a lawyer to protect your rights and safety in the workplace. If you need an experienced attorney with experience in employment law and whistleblower cases, Leichter Law firm has what you need.
Why Choose the Leichter Law Firm?
The Leichter Law Firm is solely dedicated to representing employees, not employers. Our employment law experts have legal specializations in that area, which is a rarity for attorneys to have. An employment lawyer who legally specializes in employment law will be extremely knowledgeable about most cases related to that field. No matter the complexity of your case, we can advise you of the best course of action while also protecting your legal rights.
Contact Leichter Law Firm PC Today
If you think you may have a qui tam lawsuit on your hands, let Leichter Law Firm represent you. As recognized employment law specialists, we stand ready to advise, counsel and defend you in your employment law-related legal concerns. To discuss your case with one of our whistleblower attorneys, contact us today by calling (512) 495-9995. Contact us as soon as possible to set up a free consultation about your claim before the statute of limitations passes.