The Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 is a federal law that applies to federal employees. Its aim is to protect federal employees who report wrongdoing by a Federal agency.
- Definition of federal employee – Most federal employees, former federal employees and applicants for a federal position in the executive government branch are covered by the act. Some federal employees are not protected by the act. The list of non-protected agencies includes the FBI, the GAO, the Postal Service, the National Security Agency, the CIA and many intelligence and counterintelligence agencies. The Act also doesn’t apply to many policy making positions.
- Type of wrong federal employees can disclose – Some of the many wrongs whistleblowers can alert the government to include conduct that can endanger public safety, violation of rules and regulations, fraud, abuse of authority and gross mismanagement. Not every disclosure is protected. The federal employee has to have a “reasonable belief” that the information being disclosed is true. The WPA allows federal employees to disclose information to members of Congress.
- Types of retaliation not allowed – Firing the federal employee; a failure to promote; improper disciplinary action; bad performance reviews; failure to make an appointment; improper reassignments or transfers; an improper decision involving awards, benefits, education or training; and other employee punishments including an unreasonable change in working conditions. You will normally need to show that the employer took the negative action because you disclosed the wrong.
- Where is the Complaint (of Retaliation) Filed? – the Merit Systems Protection Board or the Office of Special Counsel – both of which are designed to be free of politics. The matter can be brought either directly or by appeal of a negative agency decision.
- Benefits to the wronged employee – the main aim is to put the employee who is the subject of the retaliation in the same position as if the retaliation hadn’t occurred. This includes awarding back pay and back benefits and any other foreseeable damages.
- Possible penalties against any person who retaliates – removal, downgrade, precluding the person from federal employment for up to five years, reprimand, civil fines and other disciplines. The agency may be liable for attorney’s fees.
The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012 is a federal law that was enacted because it was believed that the protections offered by the WPA were not strong enough. Part of the reason protections were being reduced was because of decisions by the Federal Court of Appeals. Part was due to a lack of remedies and concerns that retaliation was being used to remove an employee’s security clearance which affected national security.
CONTACT Begleman, Orlow & Melletz if You Think You’re the Subject of Retaliation
Please read more on Whistleblower claims. Begelman & Orlow, P. C. has offices in PA and NJ and handles cases whistleblower by federal employees and anyone who has knowledge of wrongful government conduct. Contact the firm or call at 1-866-627-7052
Who can File a Whistleblower Claim?
Anyone can file a whistleblower claim if they have proper evidence and their claim has merit. Whistleblowers do not have to be an employee of any company. They do not have to work for the government. They do not have to be a part of any organization. The False Claims Act and other laws and court decisions aim to protect relators from retaliation by the employer. As a practical matter, there are certain people and entities who are more likely to know of employer wrongdoing than others. The more common types of whistleblowers (known as relators) are:
Types of People who File Qui tam Claims
- A Current Employee – Anyone who works for an employer is likely to know what’s proper procedure and what’s improper procedure. While some employees try to confront the employer, sometimes the best course of action is to consult a private attorney who can advice on what type of evidence is needed and whether a claim has merit. This includes Federal employees, state and local government employees and people who work in the private sector.
- A Former Employee – It doesn’t matter if the employee was terminated or left voluntarily. As long as the evidence is proper and there is Governmental wrong, then the former employee should consult with a private attorney about a qui tam claim.
- Contractors and Subcontractors – These entities should know whether employers are overcharging and whether they’re providing competent work.
- Competitors – Competitors, by nature, keep an eye on other companies. If the competitor sees that an employer is getting bids based on suspect criteria or that an employer is consistently getting business from the same agency, it’s a red flag to see if something improper is taking place.
- State and Local Governments – Many governments and local agencies are now bringing their own actions based on suspicious wrongs that they’ve investigated.
- Private and Public Organizations – These entities have a keener eye about what wrongs a business might be committing, than the average person, because they focus on a specific governmental sector.
Some Types of People Who Bring Qui Tam Claims – By Type of Misconduct
- Health Care Fraud (Medicare, Medicaid, Pharmacy and others) – Doctors, nurses, medical technicians, medical vendors and suppliers, pharmacists, and hospital employees
- Tax Fraud – Accountants, Tax Lawyers, Financial Consultants and Financial Advisors
- Military Kickbacks – Any member of the armed forces and anyone who contracts with the armed forces
- Federal Stimulus and TARP Fraud– Contractors, subcontractors, suppliers and state and local Governments
CONTACT Begleman, Orlow & Melletz if You Think the Government has Committed a Serious Wrong
Learn more about Qui Tam and Whistleblower claims in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Begelman & Orlow, P. C. has offices in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. We handle claims anywhere in the country. Contact us for a free initial consultation. You can call toll-free at 1-866-627-7052