Joseph Greenwald & Laake, PA Blog - Whistleblower (False Claims Act, Qui Tam)
WAGE AND HOUR UPDATE: Supreme Court Reverses Long-Standing View on Interpretation of FLSA Overtime Exemptions
Holding Your Harasser Accountable: The Necessity of Reporting Workplace Harassment/Discrimination to Your Employer and the Consequences for Failing to Do So
Earlier this year, the Government Accountability Office released a twenty page report still finding HUBZone certification fraud is being overlooked by the Small Business Administration. HUBZone fraud occurs when contractors mislead their ability to meet the requirements for the SBA’s HUBZone program in order to receive government contracts specifically carved out for small businesses in economically distressed communities, in both rural and urban areas.
The U.S. Supreme Court announced on Monday, June 26, that it plans to hear arguments later this year on a case that is of great importance to corporate whistleblowers and to people who support them.
The case centers on the Dodd-Frank law, which was passed by Congress in 2010 in the wake of the financial meltdown and provides major protections for whistleblowers, such as freedom from retaliation and potentially large cash awards for pointing out corporate wrongdoing.
Federal government employees are often in an excellent position to know about waste, fraud and abuse in government programs and to quietly inform others of what they know in order to punish wrongdoing, spur change and save the government vast sums of money. When they inform Congress, for example, about potentially illegal or wasteful practices in their agencies, federal employees are acting as whistleblowers – and they are protected under their own whistleblower statutes.
Some basic considerations when thinking of reporting health care fraud
Most employees never imagine reporting their employers. No one takes a job with their sights set on clandestinely gathering evidence for a government health care fraud investigation. But, anyone working in the health care field long enough knows that fraud is still rampant and it sometimes causes real patient harm. So, how does a loyal employee turn whistleblower, and what should you do if you find yourself in this position?
Whistleblowers and those who support and represent them will be pleased and energized by a December 28, 2016, ruling by U.S. District Judge George H. King of the Central District of California in a case involving the unapproved, or off-label, marketing of prescription drugs.
Doctors are generally allowed to prescribe prescription drugs for uses that haven’t been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, but pharma companies are barred under federal law from marketing drugs to doctors for these unapproved uses.
I often represent whistleblowers – employees in either the private or public sector who become aware of wrongdoing by their employers and come forward to report the wrongdoing in the interest of pressing for change and reform.
Over the years, we have won hundreds of millions of dollars in cases that were originally spurred by whistleblowers’ activities, and we have achieved courtroom victories for whistleblowers who suffered illegal retaliation precisely because they chose to blow the whistle on improper corporate actions.
Jeffrey Mills was the Director of Food and Nutritional Services for the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) from 2010 to 2013. DCPS used Chartwells, a contractor, to provide its food and food services for students in DCPS. Mills saw enormous problems with Chartwells, including overbilling and, even worse, providing spoiled food to students. His complaints to DCPS officials were ignored. And when DCPS terminated his employment, he alleged that he was terminated in retaliation for blowing the whistle on Chartwells. Mills sued not only for retaliation but also for fraud against the D.C. government, under the qui tam provisions of the District of Columbia False Claims Act. D.C. Code Ann § 2-381.03. Chartwells settled with Mills for $450,000.00 for his retaliation claim, and settled with D.C. for $19,000,000.00, 30% of which could go to Mills, and the rest to D.C. to compensate it for the overbilling and spoiled food. https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/dc-schools-food-vendor-pays-19-million-to-settle-whistleblower-lawsuit/2015/06/05/bae8dd3c-0b96-11e5-9e39-0db921c47b93_story.html.
Benjamin Franklin once wrote, “[i]n the world nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.” Franklin’s point being that much like Snoop Dogg in the 90’s, before his unnecessary detours under other monikers, the Government gets its money. It’s got its “mind on [its] money and [its] money on [its] mind.” Snoop Doggy Dogg, Gin and Juice (Death Row Records 1993). So, while you may say “until death do us part” in your wedding vows, not even the Grim Reaper can get you out of paying the Government if you owe it.