Whistleblowers in New Jersey
The State of New Jersey has strong laws to protect and reward those who expose unscrupulous employers defrauding state government, often called “whistleblowers.” The New Jersey False Claims Act provides that those who report fraud and waste may receive a portion of the damages recovered. This is often called a “qui tam” action. Additionally, whistleblowers on false claims against the federal government are also covered by a similar federal law in New Jersey.
Lawyer for New Jersey Whistleblowers and Qui Tam Actions
At Console Mattiacci Law, LLC, we are experienced in assisting people in New Jersey file claims under the New Jersey False Claims Act. Our attorneys have represented whistleblowers exposing fraud, and can help them get the portion of recovery they deserve under the law. We also represent clients with federal qui tam actions.
We also represent whistleblowers who have exposed violations of the law and other wrongful actions, including discrimination, ethical violations or violations in safety or health code, and then were retaliated against. We brought the first successful lawsuit under New Jersey’s Conscientious Employee Protection Act ever filed. In addition, in 2013, we won a $1.678 million unanimous jury verdict for a New Jersey whistleblower, who had worked at her company for approximately two years and made $44,000 a year.
Call us at 215-545-7676 to set up a consultation. We have an office in Moorestown, New Jersey, and represent whistleblowers all over the state, including in Camden, Cherry Hill, Trenton and Hamilton, and all New Jersey counties, including but not limited to Monmouth County, Camden County, Ocean County, Atlantic County, Gloucester County, Mercer County and Burlington County.
False Claims Covered By NJFCA
A significant amount of money exchanges hands between the state government in New Jersey and private actors. The New Jersey False Claims Act (NJFCA) is meant to root out fraud and waste in these transactions.
Under N.J.S.A. § 2A:32C-3, the law covers when a person or entity knowingly:
- Presents, or causes to be presents, a false or fraudulent claim to the state or any recipient of state funds seeking to have the claim paid or approved;
- Uses a false record or statement seeking payment or approval for a false or fraudulent claim to the state;
- Possesses or has custody or control over property or funds used or meant to be used by the state, and delivers less than the amount for which they receive a receipt or certificate;
- For a person authorized to deliver a document certifying delivery of property or funds used or used by the state, delivering a receipt without completely knowing whether the receipt is true with the intent to defraud;
- Buying or receiving as a pledge of an obligation or debt public property who cannot legally sell that property;
- Using a false record or statement to conceal, avoid or reduce a debt or obligation to the state; and
- Conspiring to defraud the state.
The state’s Medicaid program is one of the most significant sources of funds for private employers. The program has an annual budget of about $12 billion and serves about 1.4 million people, most of them low-income. Qualified persons under Medicaid seek health care services from providers, who then bill the program.
The Medicaid program is the frequent source of fraud implicated in qui tam actions. “Qui tam” is derived from a Latin phrase for “who sues in this matter for the king, as well as for himself.” Health care providers may bill for unnecessary services or procedures, or work not performed at all. They may double bill Medicaid and private insurance or upcode and conspire to give kickbacks. Contractors who provide services to the government may also defraud the state government by overbilling or billing for work never completed. None of these actions are legal and those who report the fraud may be entitled to a significant reward.
Bringing a New Jersey Qui Tam Action
A person seeking to bring the matter to light, including an employee of a state contractor or a health care clinic engaging in Medicaid fraud, may bring a civil suit on behalf of him or herself and on behalf of the state against the fraudulent actor under N.J.S.A. § 2A:32C-5. The matter remains sealed for 60 days, during which the defendant will not be served. If you are aware of such fraud it is very important that you speak to an experienced attorney who can explain your rights and the often complicated process of whistleblower law.
The employee bringing the suit must notify the state attorney general upon filing. The AG may intervene. If the AG intervenes, he or she may seek triple damages against the liable party. The person bringing the suit may join and recover 15 to 25 percent of those damages. If the AG declines to intervene, then the employee may continue and collect up to 30 percent of the damages the AG may have sought.
Under N.J.S.A. § 2A:32C-11, the statute of limitations, or when a suit can be brought, is within six years of when the fraudulent act is committed or within three years after facts material to the cause of action are known. However, the deadline under the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA) is only two years.
Bringing Federal Fraud to Light
New Jersey’s law is modeled in large part after the Federal False Claims Act (31 U.S.C. §§ 3729-3733). The federal law covers any claim a person in New Jersey might have for fraud against the federal government.
The federal law works in a very similar way as the New Jersey law. A person wishing to expose fraud against the federal government can bring suit, and the Attorney General may intervene. A person bringing suit may recover 15 to 25 percent if the AG intervenes, and 30 percent if it does not.
New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act
When an employee blows the whistle on any act by an employer that is illegal or violates any sort of regulation, the employer may choose to retaliate – which is illegal. The retaliation may include any negative employment decision, including termination, passing the person over for promotion, reducing his or her hours or moving the person to another division or city. The Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA) is intended to protect such whistleblowers.
Under CEPA, an employee who discloses or threatens to disclose to a supervisor or governmental body any act that he or she reasonably believes is a violation of law or a clear mandate of public policy, testifies against an employer about such an act or refuses to participate in one, is protected from retaliation.
If an employer is found to have retaliated, the employee may receive injunctive relief, such as being reinstated to his or her job, lost pay and all costs, mental distress damages, punitive damages and attorney’s fees.
Console Mattiacci Law, LLC ǀ New Jersey Whistleblower Attorneys
If you are aware of fraud by your employer against the federal or New Jersey government, or if you’ve been retaliated against by an employer for being a whistleblower, seek the assistance of the experienced New Jersey whistleblower rights lawyers at Console Mattiacci Law, LLC. We are located in Moorestown, New Jersey and serve those seeking qui tam actions or fighting fraud and retaliation across the state. Call 215-545-7676 to set up a consultation.