Image of False Claims Act Whistleblower Obtains Favorable Ruling on Double Back Pay

False Claims Act Whistleblower Obtains Favorable Ruling on Double Back Pay

 

False Claims Act Whistleblower Disclosed Kickbacks

In a recent False Claims Act case, a whistleblower obtained a favorable ruling on the remedies available for False Claims Act whistleblowers.  In Mooney v. Americare, the whistleblower alleged retaliation for disclosing kickbacks from fraudulent referrals and the fraudulent alteration of documents submitted to Medicaid and Medicare.  In particular, Judge Block held that back pay is doubled before the court offsets the value of interim earnings (also known as mitigation).

False Claims Act Whistleblower Protection Remedies

Under the False Claims Act’s whistleblower protection provision, a prevailing whistleblower is entitled to “all relief necessary to make that employee, contractor, or agent whole,” which includes reinstatement, double back pay, interest on the back pay, special damages, and attorney’s fees and costs.  In Mooney, the court addressed the issue of whether the whistleblower’s back pay (lost wages and benefits that Mooney would have been paid absent the retaliation) should be reduced by the amount of her interim earnings before the back pay is doubled, or whether instead back pay should be doubled before the court applies an offset for mitigation.

Judge Block held that back pay damages should be doubled prior to subtracting any mitigation income because such an interpretation:

  • comports with congressional intent that an employee who suffered retaliation is best made whole by recovering double back pay;
  • prevents defendants from benefitting from the whistleblower’s successful mitigation efforts; and
  • prevents defendants from avoiding the double-damages provision by tendering the undoubled amount in mitigation prior to judgment. 

Implications for Whistleblowers

This decision highlights the significant potential exposure for employers in False Claims Act whistleblower cases.  Double back pay and special damages (damages for emotional distress and harm to reputation) can yield large jury verdicts.  And the logic of this ruling also applies to the award of double back-pay in Dodd-Frank whistleblower claims.

For more information about False Claims Act whistleblower protection, see our answer to frequently asked questions about the False Claims Act whistleblower protection law.

You may also be protected under the NDAA/defense contractor whistleblower retaliation law.  To learn about NDAA whistleblower protection, see our post Congress Strengthens Whistleblower Protections for Federal Employees and our Practical Law Practice Note: Whistleblower Protections Under the National Defense Authorization Act.

For more information about False Claims Act whistleblower protection, click here.

FCA Whistleblower Retaliation Damages

Experienced False Claims Act and NDAA Whistleblower Protection Attorneys

SEC whistleblower lawyers The 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.

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.

Before hiring a lawyer for a high-stakes whistleblower case, assess the lawyer’s reputation, prior experience representing whistleblowers, knowledge of whistleblower laws and prior results.  And consider the experience of other whistleblowers working with that attorney.  See our client testimonials by clicking here.

Leading whistleblower law firm Zuckerman Law has 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.