101: U.S. Law and Whistleblowers – False Claims

Whistleblowers laws allow for people who perceive wrongdoings in their company to call upon them and bring the employers to justice.  There are numerous whistleblowers laws and acts in the U.S.  which allow people to complain.  However, a lot of employers are now in fear all false claims precisely because whistleblowers have been given too much protection and credibility.

tumblr_nnjfjwleYp1uth1b1o1_400How can we protect the justice?  It is not about the whistleblowers or the employers, justice needs protection.  Those who have done something wrong should be prosecuted for it.  Similarly, those who use Medicare Fraud as a means of bullying the employer should be brought to justice.

False Claims Reform Act of 1986

Back in 1863, the False Claims Act wrote a civil penalty which stated that “double the amount of damages suffered by the government, plus a $2,000 forfeiture for each false claim submitted.

” Amendments in 1943 and 1986 were enacted to “increase detection and prosecution of false claims submitted to the federal government.” The further reform includes the Reform Act of 1986, which was “the brain-child of public-interest attorney John R. Phillips.”

According to the Reform Act of 1986, if the Attorney General elects to take over the case, whistleblowers are guaranteed 15 to 25 percent of funds recovered through trial as well as legitimate compensation for any legal fees, litigation costs, back pay, and other damages. If, on the other hand, the Attorney General chooses not elect to take over the case, the whistleblowers are guaranteed 25 to 30 percent of the winnings.

false-claims-whistleblowerFurthermore, in the Act, 7 acts which can be prosecuted as false acts are defined.  According to False Claims Reform Act of 1986, individuals can be prosecuted only if they knowingly defrauded the government with false claims.  This word ‘knowingly’ allows a more broad interpretation of the law.  By ‘knowingly’, the Act actually states that the person who makes a false claim will be prosecuted the only if they had “actual knowledge of the information, acts in deliberate ignorance of the truth or falsity of the information, or acts in reckless disregard of the truth or falsity of the information”.  What this means is that violators can be prosecuted not on “clear and convincing the evidence” which was require it in the 1863 Act, but only on a “preponderance of evidence”.  Therefore, the employee doesn’t some needs to prove a false claim, because this claim has been made “in good faith-belief that a violation had been committed”.

Are Whistleblowers Protected Under The False Claims Act?

With the accent put on “knowing”, a lot of false claims can be made with the excuse that they did not know. This, unfortunately, leaves place for many wrongful accusations, which of course are as equally bad as violations which are reported, or not reporting violations in the first place. This is precisely why justice is very complex.

Disclaimer: This article provides general information on legal matters.  This article is no substitution for an expert’s legal advice. Consult a lawyer or an attorney if you are in need of a legal advice.

Author: John Canales

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