C:\rewesquire\website\pennsylvania whistleblower statute has its protection and rewards
The Federal Statute-False Claims Act Affords Whistleblower Employee Protections and
In 1986, Congress added anti-retaliation protections to the False Claims Act. These provisions, which did not exist
previously, are contained in 31 U.S.C. Sec. 3730(h):
Any employee who is discharged, demoted, suspended, threatened, harassed, or in any other mannerdiscriminated against in the terms and conditions of employment by his or her employer because of lawfulacts done by the employee on behalf of his employer or others in furtherance of an action under thissection, including investigation for, initiation of, testimony for, or assistance in an action filed or to befiled under this section, shall be entitled to all relief necessary to make the employee whole.
The protection against retaliation extends to whistleblowers whose allegations could legitimately support a FalseClaims Act case even if the case is never filed. The statute of limitations for Sec. 3730(h) claims is 6 years in mostjurisdictions, but is currently shorter in California and a few other locations.
The whistleblower plaintiff is entitled to reinstatement with seniority, double back pay, interest, special damagessustained as a result of discriminatory treatment, and attorneys fees and costs. There is federal jurisdiction for thesewhistleblower claims. To establish a Sec. 3730(h) retaliatory discharge claim, the whistleblower must engage inconduct protected by the False Claims Act. Second, the courts require a showing that the defendant have somenotice of the protected conduct that the whistleblower was either taking action in furtherance of a qui tam action orassisting in an investigation or actions brought by the Government. Finally, the whistleblower must show that thetermination was in retaliation for the protected activities. A False Claims Act qui tam case can includewhistleblower claims and other legal claims based upon other state and federal laws.
Under the False Claims Act the government may recover up to three times the amount of money it lost as a resultof the defendant's fraud. The whistle-blower's share is calculated based upon the amount the government recovers,not the actual losses. A number of factors determine how much money a whistle-blower will receive if thegovernment is able to recover money from the defendant. If the government joins the case, the whistle-blower isentitled to at least 15 percent but not more than 25 percent of what the government recovers. If the governmentdeclines to join the case and the whistle-blower continues with a suit against the defendant, the whistle-blower isentitled to at least 25 percent but not more than 30 percent of the money the government recovers.
One recently publicized settlement under the False Claims Act involved Walgreens Pharmacy, which agreed to paythe government $35 million for bilking Medicare (and U.S. taxpayers) out of millions of dollars when itintentionally filled patient prescriptions with more expensive versions of a drug in order to increase itsreimbursement rate from Medicare. For example, Walgreens computer system was preset to have certainprescriptions filled with the more expensive capsule versions, rather than the standard cheaper tablet form, whichcarries with it a smaller reimbursement to the pharmacy. Rantidine (Zantac) and Fluoxedine (Prozac) are two ofthe drugs “switched” by the drugstore chain. The employee-pharmacist who “blew the whistle” on Walgreens wasawarded $5million dollars.
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