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.
FCA Whistleblower Retaliation Damages
Experienced False Claims Act and NDAA Whistleblower Protection Attorneys
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.
- U.S. News and Best Lawyers® have named Zuckerman Law a Tier 1 firm in Litigation – Labor and Employment in the Washington DC metropolitan area.
- Dallas Hammer has extensive experience representing whistleblowers at government contractors in retaliation and rewards claims and has written extensively about cybersecurity whistleblowing. He was selected by his peers to be included in The Best Lawyers in America® in the category of employment law in 2021 and 2022.
- Described by the National Law Journal as a “leading whistleblower attorney,” founding Principal Jason Zuckerman has established precedent under a wide range of whistleblower protection laws and obtained substantial compensation for his clients and recoveries for the government in whistleblower rewards and whistleblower retaliation cases. He served on the Department of Labor’s Whistleblower Protection Advisory Committee, which makes recommendations to the Secretary of Labor to improve OSHA’s administration of federal whistleblower protection laws. Zuckerman also served as Senior Legal Advisor to the Special Counsel at the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, the federal agency charged with protecting whistleblowers in the federal government. At OSC, he oversaw investigations of whistleblower claims and obtained corrective action or relief for whistleblowers.
- Matt Stock is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Fraud Examiner and former KPMG external auditor. As an auditor, Stock developed expertise in financial statement analysis and internal controls testing and fraud recognition. He uses his auditing experience to help whistleblowers investigate and disclose complex financial frauds to the government.
- Zuckerman was recognized by Washingtonian magazine as a “Top Whistleblower Lawyer” (2020, 2018, 2017, 2015, 2009, and 2007), selected by his peers to be included in The Best Lawyers in America® in the category of employment law (2011-2021) and in SuperLawyers in the category of labor and employment law (2012 and 2015-2021), is rated 10 out of 10 by Avvo, based largely on client reviews, and is rated AV Preeminent® by Martindale-Hubbell based on peer reviews
- We have published extensively on whistleblower rights and protections, and speak nationwide at seminars and continuing legal education conferences. We blog about new developments under whistleblower retaliation and rewards laws at the Whistleblower Protection Law and SEC Awards Blog, and in 2019, the National Law Review awarded Zuckerman its “Go-To Thought Leadership Award” for his analysis of developments in whistleblower law.
- Our attorneys have been quoted by and published articles in leading business, accounting, and legal periodicals, including The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, CNBC, MarketWatch, Vox, Accounting Today, Going Concern, Law360 – Expert Analysis, Investopedia, The National Law Review, inSecurities, Government Accountability Project, S&P Global Market Intelligence, Risk & Compliance Magazine, The D&O Diary, The Compliance and Ethics Blog, Compliance Week and other printed and electronic media.
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:
- Boosting Contractor Employee Whistleblower Protections, Law 360 (December 2016)
- New Tools to Combat Whistleblower Retaliation, Taxpayers Against Fraud Education Fund Quarterly Review, Vol. 57 (October 2010)
- GAO Report Calls for Improvements in Government Contractor Whistleblower Protections
- False Claims Act Retaliation Decision Underscores Broad Scope of FCA Whistleblower Protection
- NDAA Provides Robust Whistleblower Protection
- FAR Amendment Bars Agencies from Subsidizing Whistleblower Retaliation
- NDAA Contractor Whistleblower Protection Law Highly Effective in Rooting Out Fraud
- Congress Enacts Anti-Gag Provision in Cromnibus Spending Bill
- Whistleblower Lawyer Jason Zuckerman Will Speak About False Claims Act Litigation at Taxpayers Against Fraud Conference
- Whistleblower Protections Under the Whistleblower Protection Act, Practical Law (October 2016)
- Whistleblower Lawyer Jason Zuckerman Quoted in National Law Journal
- Whistleblower Lawyer Jason Zuckerman Quoted About Federal Employee Whistleblower Rights
- Washington Post Quotes Whistleblower Attorney Jason Zuckerman About Chilling Effect of Insider Threat Program
- How to foster a more ethical culture
- Whistleblower Lawyer Jason Zuckerman Quoted About MacLean Whistleblower Protection Act Case
- Trump Questionnaire Raises Concerns About Retaliation Against Energy Department Staff
- CFPB official wants to silence a whistleblower before he can talk to Congress