There are a few great laws for employees to protect them from retaliation from whistle blowing, one of them is the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. § 3729-3733. Under the False Claims Act, also sometimes called the Lincoln Law, anyone who is not affiliated with the government is allowed to file actions on behalf of the government, against persons and companies defrauding the government. These whistleblowers can receive a portion (15 to 25 percent) of the recovered damages!
And it gets better, not only can you get a portion of the recovery, your employer can not wrongfully fire you for filing the action. As our employment law attorneys have previously blogged about, there are both state and federal laws that offer protections for whistleblowers. (See Am I Protected As A Whistleblower? Best Lawyer Answer!; Fired For Reporting Fraud At Work? Get A Lawyer!; and Can I Be Fired For Reporting Financial Fraud At My Company? I Need A Lawyer!). Section 3730(h) of the False Claims Act—the “whistleblower” provision, which states, in relevant part:
Any employee who is discharged, demoted, suspended, threatened, harassed, or in any other manner discriminated against in the terms and conditions of employment by his or her employer because of lawful acts done by the employee on behalf of the employee or others in furtherance of an action under this section, including investigation for, initiation of, testimony for, or assistance in an action filed or to be filed under this section, shall be entitled to all relief necessary to make the employee whole.
Simply put, your employer can’t fire you or discriminate against you if you file a suit against them under the False Claims Act.
A recent example of a false claims act retaliation case is Ribik v. Manor Care Inc. The case was filed by Patrick Carson, who worked for Manor Care as a physical therapy assistant until 2009. Carson claims the company terminated him after he filed suit in 2011 and spoke up about overbilling concerns.
According to Carson’s suit, ManorCare pressured their nursing home administrators to bill for unnecessary care to meet financial targets. The suit further alleges that ManorCare pushed the vast majority of its patients into Medicare’s highest tier of rehabilitation services, even when it was not needed. The only purpose for this was to increase the billing amounts. This is evidenced by the fact that in 2006 only 39 percent of ManorCare’s patients were in the highest tier, but aft the big push in 2009, 80 percent of their patients were in the highest tier. As further evidence, the lawsuit describes the treatment of an 85-year old “medically fragile” patient of Manor Care, whose medical records called for hospice care only. ManorCare put that patient through 100 days of therapy, the highest tier Medicare services, because that was how long Medicare would cover those services.
Although the lawsuit does not specify the amount ManorCare overbilled Medicare, we do know that Meidcare paid more than $6 billion to ManorCare from January 2006 to May 2012. Even if only 10 percent of that was overbilling, if the whistleblower got 15 percent of the recovery, that would be a 90 million payout to the whistleblower!
This sounds too good to be true, but it really happens. In fact, 2014 had some of the largest payouts under the False Claims Act. This includes a $167.7 million payout to whistleblowers on a Johnson & Johnson case. In Johnson & Johnson the whistleblowers alleged promotion of drugs not approved as safe and effective by the FDA. There was also a $63.9 million payout to a whistleblower on a JP Morgan Chase case. In JP Morgan, the whistleblower alleged the bank was knowingly originating and underwriting non-compliant mortgage loans that were later submitted for insurance by the FHA and Department of Veterans Affairs. Another large payout was $57 million to a whistleblower on a Bank of America case. In Bank of America, the whistleblower’s allegations were related to the packaging, marketing, sale, arrangement, structuring and issuance of RMBS, collateralized debt obligations, and the bank’s practices concerning the underwriting and origination of mortgage loans.”
These suits are clearly some of the best case scenarios as far as damage payouts. Even if there was no damage payout, the whistleblowers’ jobs would still be protected. Employers cannot retaliate against employees who have filed claims in good faith, even if those claims fail. If you think your company may be defrauding the government, be sure to call the right attorney to make sure your rights are protected.
Ohio law provides job protections to those employees that report or oppose illegal or unsafe conduct or work conditions, such as OSHA violations, embezzlement, unlawful discrimination, or patient abuse, to name a few. However, in order to have the protections under the law, there are a lot of steps that each employee must take. That is why it is absolutely critical for any employee confronted with illegal or unsafe conduct or work conditions at work to immediately consult with employment law lawyers in order to make sure that everything is done right. If you wait until you are fired, you may have already lost your claim. Do not wait. If you have seen any illegal or dangerous conduct on your job, then the best thing you can do is call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation at (216) 291-4744. The Spitz Law Firm, and its attorneys are experienced and dedicated to protecting Ohio employees from retaliation after blowing the whistle on unlawful and hazardous activities at work.
The materials available at the top of this whistle blower claims page and on this employment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. If you are still asking, “what should I do if I am being harassed for reporting…”, “how do I …?”, “Am I …?”, “what should I do if…” or “can my boss fired me for …”, it would be best for you to contact an Ohio attorney to obtain advice with respect to particular whistleblower claims questions or any particular employment law issue. Use and access to this employment law website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The legal opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of The Spitz Law Firm, attorney Brian Spitz, or any individual attorney.