Whistleblower Laws in Pennsylvania
A person who alerts authorities or supervisors to violations of laws, rules or regulations made by an employer is called a “whistleblower.”
Whistleblowers are essential to eliminating fraud and waste, and ensuring private employers follow the law. Federal, state and local laws in the Philadelphia area protect and reward people who expose waste and unlawful actions.
Philadelphia, PA Whistleblower and Qui Tam Lawyer
If you are seeking to expose fraud by your employer, who receives funds from the U.S. government or the City of Philadelphia, you could recover a portion of the waste you bring to light. On the other hand, if you’ve already exposed the illegal activity of an employer and have suffered retaliation, there are important protections in place, and you could recover for damages.
At Console Mattiacci Law, LLC, our dedicated Philadelphia employment lawyers represent people who expose an employer for bad behavior, both in “qui tam” actions and in whistleblower retaliation cases in Pennsylvania. Call us today at 215-545-7676 or contact us online to set up a consultation.
Federal False Claims Act for Pennsylvania Whistleblowers
The federal government is a significant source of revenue for private companies across the United States, whether they are government contractors or providers of a service of the federal government, such as Medicare and Medicaid.
The False Claims Act is intended to root out waste and fraud, and employees of these private companies who witness these practices are in a prime place to act.
An employee of a company that contracts with the federal government or bills the federal government may file a civil suit if he or she sees fraudulent acts by the employer, including submitting false claims for payments, using a false record to get a claim paid, possessing money or property of the federal government and returning less than all of it, or otherwise defrauding the federal government.
These are called “qui tam” actions. When you file, you confidentially serve the suit to the federal government. The U.S. Attorney General’s office will investigate the claim. They may seek to intervene within 60 days, or they may not. If the employer is proven to have defrauded the federal government, they may be required to pay triple the amount of the damage they caused, as well as substantial fines.
If the AG intervenes, you may continue and receive an award of 15 to 25 percent of those damages. If the AG chooses not to, you may receive up to 30 percent of the damages the AG would have been able to recover.
Philadelphia Qui Tam Actions
The City of Philadelphia has a whistleblower ordinance that applies to city contractors and providers of city services. (Philadelphia Code §§ 19-3601-3606).
The ordinance is modeled after the federal law, and works similarly. The employee submits a claim to the City Solicitor, alleging the same type of fraud against the city as that against the federal government under the federal law. The City Solicitor decides whether to pursue a civil action, or to designate the person bringing the complaint to pursue a civil action.
If the City Solicitor pursues the action, the person bringing the complaint is entitled to 10 to 25 percent of the triple damages. If the person designated brings the action, he or she is entitled to 15 to 30 percent of the damages. Pennsylvania also has a state-wide Whistleblower statute as well as a common law action for wrongful termination that may apply to whistleblower claims.
Protection from Retaliation for Pennsylvania Whistleblowers
A person who alerts authorities or supervisors of fraud, health and safety code violations, discrimination, harassment or other unlawful activity could be subjected to retaliation, which is illegal. It is not permissible for an employer to terminate, demote or fail to promote a whistleblower for not being a “team player.”
The Commonwealth has the Pennsylvania Whistleblower Law to protect those seeking to bring bad behavior to light. The law says that no person may be discriminated against, including discharge and in negative actions toward pay, terms and conditions or privileges for making a good faith report to authorities or supervisors about illegal actions or waste.
A good faith report is one made when the employee has reasonable cause to believe the report being made is true. An employee who makes a report that is inaccurate cannot be retaliated against if the report was made in good faith.
Damages in a Whistleblower Retaliation Case
A whistleblower who suffers retaliation may seek monetary damages from the employer. These may include lost pay and benefits after being terminated, including both back and front pay, emotional distress damages, punitive damages and costs of litigation, including attorney’s fees.
The whistleblower may also receive injunctive relief. The court could require the employer to reinstate the employee to the same position or an equivalent one and fully restore his or her seniority and benefits.
Console Mattiacci Law, LLC ǀ Attorneys for Pennsylvania Whistleblowers
We are proud to represent those in Pennsylvania who bring fraud, waste and violations of the law to the light at Console Mattiacci Law, LLC. Our Philadelphia employment lawyers have been recognized by our peers for our skill, dedication and success in this field. Call us today at 215-545-7676 to schedule a consultation.