Image of False Claims Act Retaliation Law Protects Efforts to Stop an FCA Violation

False Claims Act Retaliation Law Protects Efforts to Stop an FCA Violation

False Claims Act Whistleblower Protection for Government Contractor Employees

A September 2016 decision in a False Claims Act (“FCA”) whistleblower retaliation case clarified the broad scope of protected whistleblowing for whistleblowers that suffer for retaliation for trying to stop fraud.

In United States ex rel. Lee v. N. Adult Daily Health Care Ctr., No. 13-CV-4933-MKB, 2016 WL 4703653 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 7, 2016), the whistleblowers were former employees of Defendant Northern Adult Daily Health Care Center, a day-care center for elderly and low-income people. The whistleblowers alleged that Northern Adult retaliated against them for their complaints about several deficiencies, including Northern Adult’s unsanitary handling of food, lack of training for food-service staff, provision of alcohol to registrants, failure to provide physical therapy to residents, and disparately poor treatment of Black and Latino residents. Northern Adult took several retaliatory actions against the whistleblowers, including terminating their employment, for their attempts to stop the perceived fraud.

In denying a motion to dismiss, the court clarified several key aspects concerning FCA whistleblower protection:

  • A plaintiff need not plead an FCA retaliation claim with particularity because no showing of fraud is required. at *5–6.
  • False Claims Act protected conduct includes:
    • “lawful acts done by the employee . . . in furtherance of an action under the FCA”; and
    • “other efforts to stop one or more violations of the FCA.” at *13.
  • Efforts to stop an FCA violation are protected “even if the employee’s actions were not necessarily in furtherance of an FCA claim.” (quoting Malanga v. N.Y.U. Langone Med. Ctr., No. 14-CV-9681, 2015 WL 7019819, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 12, 2015)).
  • Under the 2009 amendments to the FCA, complaining of regulatory violations may qualify as an “effort[] to stop 1 or more violations.” at *14. The heightened standard of notice that was applied in pre-2009 FCA retaliation decisions, furthermore, is no longer valid because there is no longer a requirement to show “notice of an employee’s intentions of bringing or assisting in an FCA action.” Id.
  • Temporal proximity of less than five months is sufficient to plead causation. at *15.

Click here to lean more about the anti-retaliation provision of the False Claims Act.

Remedies and Damages in False Claims Act Whistleblower Retaliation Cases

Experienced False Claims Act and NDAA Whistleblower Protection Attorneys

SEC whistleblower lawyersThe experienced whistleblower attorneys at Zuckerman Law have substantial experience representing whistleblowers disclosing fraud and other wrongdoing at government contractors and grantees.  To schedule a free preliminary consultation, click here or call us at 202-262-8959.

Our experience includes:

  • Representing whistleblowers in NDAA retaliation claims before the Department of Defense, and Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice Offices of Inspectors General.
  • Representing whistleblowers disclosing fraud on the government in Congressional investigations.
  • Training attorneys nationwide at legal seminars and webinars about the NDAA whistleblower protection provisions and the False Claims Act whistleblower provisions.
  • Representing whistleblowers disclosing fraud on the government in Congressional investigations.

In addition, we have substantial experience representing whistleblowers under the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) and enforcing the WPA, the law that the NDAA whistleblower provisions are based upon.

  • Eric Bachman served as Deputy Special Counsel, Litigation and Legal Affairs, OSC, where he spearheaded an initiative to combat whistleblower retaliation at the Department of Veterans Affairs.  During Bachman’s tenure at OSC, the number of favorable actions for whistleblowers increased by over 50% agency-wide.
  • Jason Zuckerman served as Senior Legal Advisor to the Special Counsel at OSC, where he worked on implementation of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act and several high-profile investigations.

We have also written extensively about whistleblower protections for employees of government contractors and grantees, including the following articles and blog posts:

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Jason Zuckerman, Principal of Zuckerman Law, litigates whistleblower retaliation, qui tam, wrongful discharge, and other employment-related claims. He is rated 10 out of 10 by Avvo, was recognized by Washingtonian magazine as a “Top Whistleblower Lawyer” in 2015 and selected by his peers to be included in The Best Lawyers in America® and in SuperLawyers.