What is the Legal meaning of a WhistleBlower ? The False Claims Act?
The False Claims Act is a tool for a private system to assist the Government in rooting out fraud and abuse. It arose out of the Civil War era in 1863. There was so much waste fraud, abuse and profiteering committed by government contractors during the Civil War. The Act allowed a private citizen (the Whistleblower) to bring a lawsuit in his name and on behalf of the United States against anyone who presented a false or fraudulent claim to the government, and to keep a portion of any recovery.
In 1986 Congress overhauled the False Claims Act, passing a number of amendments designed to make it a more effective tool in combating fraud. In particular, Congress provided a number of incentives to encourage those with knowledge of fraud to come forward.
Congress believed that “fraud against the Government was apparently so rampant and difficult to identify that the Government could use all the help it could get from private citizens with knowledge of fraud.”
The 1986 amendments provide that, with limited exceptions, the whistleblower will receive a guaranteed share of any recovery obtained by the government, ranging from a minimum of 15% to a maximum of 30% of the proceeds.
If the government declines to participate, whistleblower himself may bring the claim and seek increased the damages recoverable under the Act, providing that a defendant is liable for three times the damages sustained by the government, plus a mandatory penalty of between $5,500 and $11,000 for each false claim.
Furthermore employees fearful of bringing such a claim are also protected with a strong retaliation protection— The amendments also added a whistleblower-protection provision, allowing an employee who has been fired or otherwise retaliated against for blowing the whistle on such conduct to recover damages, including two times back pay.
Louisiana itself has similar Whistleblower laws for those that expose fraud and corruption against the State Government.