When an employer misappropriates funds, violates regulations relating to safety, finance or employment or breaks any other law, they must be held accountable. In many cases, the only people knowledgeable about the violation are the people who work there.
Federal and state laws have been enacted to protect certain employees who bring an employer’s violation of laws to light, often called “whistleblowers.” In some cases, the law even rewards workers who expose fraud.
Philadelphia and New Jersey Whistleblower Rights Lawyer
At Console Mattiacci Law, LLC, we represent employees who have blown the whistle on or are seeking to expose the illegal activity of their employers in the Philadelphia area and throughout New Jersey and New York. We successfully brought the first lawsuit under New Jersey’s Conscientious Employee Protection Act ever filed, and have litigated many False Claim Act or “Qui Tam” actions. In 2013, we obtained a unanimous jury verdict of $1.678 million for a whistleblower who became aware of conduct she reasonably believed was a violation of the law and public policy.
Our attorneys have been recognized by our peers for our dedication to our clients and our skill. Our results speak for themselves in whistleblower rights. Call us today at 215-545-7676 if you seek to right the wrongs committed by your company, or if you have experienced retaliation as a result of blowing the whistle on an employer. In some cases, an employee only has 180 days to make the report, so it’s important to act quickly.
We represent whistleblowers on qui tam claims throughout the Philadelphia area, including but not limited to in Montgomery, Chester, Bucks, Lancaster and Delaware Counties. We also represent whistleblowers throughout New Jersey, including but not limited to in Monmouth County, Ocean County, Atlantic County, Camden County, Burlington County and Mercer County. We also represent clients in New York.
Types of Illegal Activity Employers Engage In
In companies that deal with the government, fraud may occur through a variety of scenarios. This can be particularly true when the company deals with any government program that pays for services, including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Heath care providers, in particular, are frequently accused of billing these federal programs for unnecessary services or services not provided.
Employers with government contracts, for construction or to provide goods or services, are also frequently accused of illegal activities, including false billing or using kickbacks or bribes to win contracts.
Employers without government contracts may also be accused of breaking the law. Employers are frequently accused of violations of Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, or a myriad of employment-related laws prohibiting discrimination or ensuring fair wages.
Federal “Qui Tam” Law Covering Pennsylvania and New Jersey
Employees who report the existence of fraud by private employers against the federal government are covered by the False Claims Act, a federal law (31 U.S.C. §§ 3729-3733). The law protects workers who report when an employer has:
- Knowingly presented a false claim for payment or approval;
- Knowingly presented a false statement or record related to a false claim;
- Had possession, custody or control of money or property belonging to the federal government and did not deliver all of it;
- Delivered a certifying receipt with the intent to defraud the federal government;
- Knowingly bought property from a government employee or member of the Armed Forces not authorized to sell the property;
- Used a falsified record or statement material to any obligation to pay the federal government or to transmit money or property, or knowingly concealed or avoided paying an obligation improperly; or
- Conspired with others to do any of these things.
If an employee is aware of any such action, he or she may file suit on behalf of himself or herself and the federal government. He or she is called the “relator.” The government may intervene.
If the federal government does not intervenes, the relator may receive up to 30 percent of the recovery up to triple damages, costs and expenses that the government would receive pursuing the claim. If the federal government does intervene, then the relator may recover between 15 and 25 percent of the funds.
The traditional name for these actions is “qui tam,” part of the Latin phrase for “who sues in this matter for the king, as well as for himself.”
Pennsylvania Whistleblower Protection
If a person in Philadelphia or the surrounding counties reports any other kind of illegal action by an employer, this is protected by Pennsylvania law. The Pennsylvania Whistleblower Act (43 P.S. §§ 1421-1431) protects employers who report violations of federal, state, and local laws from retaliation or discrimination.
It also protects employees who make reports to superiors at work. For instance, a person who witnessed a criminal act or violation of a safety regulation and made a report to his or her boss and was then fired for “not being a team player” would be protected.
New Jersey False Claims Act
Whistleblowers in New Jersey are also covered by the federal False Claims Act for fraud against the federal government. However, people who work for an employer that is defrauding the state government in New Jersey are additionally assisted by a state law.
The New Jersey False Claims Act (N.J. Rev. Stat. §§ 2A:32C-1-17) is modeled after the federal law, and covers the same type of illegal actions. However, the N.J. law adds extra incentive to root out fraud and waste. Unlike the U.S. law, if the state attorney general chooses to bring suit against the liable party, the relator, or employee reporting the illegal actions, may still join the suit. His or her attorney may join the attorney general as co-counsel, and the relator may receive between 15 to 25 percent of the proceeds recovered.
New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act
Employees in New Jersey who blow the whistle on any type of illegal activity are protected by the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (N.J. Rev. Stat. §§ 34:19-1-14). Our lawyers at Console Mattiacci Law, LLC won an award for our client in the first successful CEPA lawsuit against an employer.
If an employer retaliates against an employee for reporting illegal behavior by the employer or by fellow employees, either to appropriate authorities or to his or her boss, the employee may be eligible for compensatory damages, punitive damages, and injunctive relief.
Finding an Aggressive Attorney to Take on Your Philadelphia or New Jersey Qui Tam Case
People who seek to expose criminal or other illegal acts by their employers in Philadelphia, New Jersey and New York are not only protected under law, they may also be eligible to be rewarded. At Console Mattiacci Law, LLC, our lawyers have experience with qui tam actions. Call us today at 215-545-7676 if you are considering becoming a whistleblower and are seeking advice, or if you’ve been the victim of retaliation after exposing illegal activity to the government or to your boss.