We have discussed a variety of whistleblower issues on this blog. It might interest some of our readers to know that there are specific protections in place for certain groups of whistleblowers, such as those who are involved in qui tam actions.
What is a qui tam action?
A qui tam action occurs when a whistleblower speaks out about a company that is defrauding the government. In qui tam cases, the complaints that are lodged against a company are sealed to help provide an extra layer of protection for the brave employees who speak out against the company.
How long is the identity of the whistleblower kept sealed?
The identity of the whistleblower is a secret as long as the complaint is sealed. It is sometimes possible for an employer to figure out who spoke out against the company. If the qui tam complaint is investigated and then taken into the litigation phase, the complaint is unsealed during litigation. At that point, the employer would learn who filed the complaint.
Can employees take action if an employer harasses them after a qui tam complaint is unsealed?
There are three points that the employee has to prove to be able to make a case for retaliation after a qui tam complaint. The employee has to prove that he or she was involved in the qui tam case, that the employer knew of the qui tam action and that the qui tam complaint was the basis of the retaliatory actions.
Taking action regarding retaliation can be a complicated matter. It is vital that you understand the possible methods of proving retaliation that is in violation of your whistleblower protections.
Source: FindLaw, “Whistleblower Protections in Qui Tam Actions,” accessed July 22, 2015