The False Claims Act prohibits defendants from retaliating against their employees, contractors, or agents, for lawful acts in furtherance of a qui tam lawsuit or other efforts to stop violations of the False Claims Act. Specifically, the FCA prevents defendants from discharging, demoting, suspending, threatening, harassing, or in any other way discriminating against the employee, contractor, agent, or associated other person who qualifies under the law.
You Have the Right to Fight Back Against Retaliation
Any affected employee, contractor, or agent can bring an action for retaliation under the False Claims Act in federal district court. In order to prove a claim for retaliation, courts have generally held that the plaintiff must show two elements: (1) that the individual was engaged in protected activity (i.e., that they acted in furtherance of a qui tam suit); and (2) that the defendant discriminated against the employee, contractor, or agent because of that individual’s actions in furtherance of a qui tam suit.
You Can Recover “Double” Damages, Plus Interest, and Attorney’s Fees
A prevailing plaintiff under this section of the False Claims Act is entitled to “all relief necessary” to make that individual whole, including reinstatement, two times the amount of back pay, interest, and compensation for any special damages sustained, such as litigation costs and attorneys’ fees. For example, if an employee who was earning $100,000 per year was fired because of their protected activities in exposing fraud, such as by complaining about the matter to the company and then pursuing a False Claims Act whistleblower lawsuit, and the matter was not resolved for two full years, the retaliated employee would be entitled to recover $400,000, plus interest, plus attorneys’ fees [$200,000 for two years’ of lost compensation, multiplied times two, plus interest and attorneys’ fees]. The retaliated employee would also be entitled to reinstatement at the same level of seniority and responsibility.
An action for retaliation under the False Claims Act must be brought within three years of when the retaliation occurred. Typically, claims for retaliation are made part of a False Claims Act lawsuit seeking recovery from the defendant for fraud, and remain under seal concurrently with the principal claims in the FCA lawsuit.