State and federal whistleblower laws provide important protections to employees. Employees have the right to disclose suspected misconduct without facing retribution from their employer. In cases where the government is being ‘defrauded’, these claims are referred to “qui tam” actions and they are outlined in the False Claims Act (31 U.S.C. §§ 3729-3733).
The federal government provides strong protections to workers who expose fraud or misappropriation against U.S. taxpayers. New York also has a false claims statute that rewards employees who make disclosures regarding fraud against state taxpayers. If the government recovers money, the whistleblower who made it possible may be eligible for a financial award.
In addition to federal and state “qui tam” protections, states also have whistleblower laws that provide for remedial action when the employee is wrongfully terminated, demoted, or otherwise retaliated against for revealing either criminal activity or a failure to comply with health and safety standards. In New York, laws protecting whistleblowers can be found in N.Y. Civ. Serv. Law §75-b, N.Y. Lab. Law §740 and N.Y. State Fin. Law §187.
Get Help From an Experienced New York Whistleblower Rights Attorney
At Console Mattiacci Law, LLC, we have successfully litigated qui tam actions and whistleblower retaliation claims across the east coast, and are licensed to practice in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. If your employment has been terminated after reporting an illegal or fraudulent action or public policy violation, you need an experienced attorney by your side.
The attorneys at Console Mattiacci Law, LLC were the first to bring a lawsuit under New Jersey’s Conscientious Employee Act. For those who need an aggressive retaliation and whistleblower rights attorney to manage their lawsuit, call the attorneys at (856) 854-4000 or contact us online and we can begin discussing your case today.
How to File a Whistleblower Claim in New York
New York law generally requires that those who are employed in the state make a good faith effort to inform their employer of the wrongdoing prior to filing a claim with a government body. The public employee typically must allow the employer a reasonable amount of time in order to remedy the situation. Notably, an employer may not retaliate against an employee simply for reporting wrongdoing.
There are exceptions to this general rule, including when a company’s conduct represents an imminent threat to public health or safety, in which case an employee should take immediate action and report the wrongdoing to the appropriate public officials.
If the public employee does not make a good faith effort to inform their employer, they run the risk of not being protected by the state’s whistleblower laws. In addition, if the employer can prove a “separate and independent basis” for taking action against the employee in defense of a claim by the employee.
The bottom line: Whistleblower claims are complicated. You must go through the proper procedures. If you are considering disclosing information in New York, it is highly recommended that you seek guidance from a qualified attorney.
Examples of Whistleblower Claims
Whistleblower claims come in many different forms. An employee can trigger whistleblower protections in New York by making a good faith attempt to notify their employer of a legal violation or public policy violation. Some examples include:
● The improper billing of government programs;
● Wage & hour violations;
● Workplace safety issues; and
● Discriminatory hiring, promoting, or paying practices.
Remember, in New York State, a public employee generally must inform their employer of violations prior to reporting wrongdoing to a government agency. In order to be exempted from that general requirement, the employee can show that there is an immediate threat to public safety. A useful example of what type of conduct qualifies for this exemption is the case of Finklestein v. Cornell Univ. Med. Coll. In this case, a doctor was granted immediate whistleblower protection for reporting that another medical professional was practicing with an undiagnosed psychiatric condition.
Federal Qui Tam Actions against Employers
Qui tam actions involve federal contractors and other parties who knowingly defraud the federal government through improper billing or otherwise practices. This can include actions such as submitting a false claim for approval, knowingly using a false record or statement to receive payment from the federal government, or submitting a false receipt. Insiders who blow the whistle on such activities that defraud the government can be rewarded up to 30% of the amount recovered in damages.
In addition, New York State has its own False Claims Act that protects the state from private businesses that contract with the state. If you are considering filing a Qui Tam claim, it is crucial that you have an experienced New York Qui Tam lawyer by your side.
Damages in Employer Retaliation Lawsuits
Employers who are found guilty of retaliating against an employee for reporting criminal wrongdoing, threats to public safety, fraudulent practices or for asserting their rights, are liable for specific damages to the employee who was wrongfully retaliated against. These include:
● Back pay or compensation for lost wages;
● Front pay or reinstatement of their job;
● Attorney and court fees;
● Out-of-pocket expenses related to securing new employment; and
● And in some cases, punitive damages.
Contact a New York Whistleblower Rights Attorney Today
At Console Mattiacci Law, LLC, we have represented whistleblowers across the east coast, and are licensed to practice in New York and across the northeastern United States. If you are considering disclosing sensitive information or you are facing retaliation for your protected activities, please do not hesitate to give us a call at 917-779-8250 or to contact us online.