If you have information that your employer is defrauding the government, you have the right to bring a qui tam lawsuit against it. A qui tam action helps the government recover money that it lost due to fraudulent activity.
Understandably, you can probably think of several reasons to remain quiet regarding the illegal activity. Know, though, that remaining quiet helps no one. Moreover, your silence could put you at risk of legal repercussions if and when the government does learn about your employer’s shady dealings. According to FindLaw, to encourage you and others in your position to speak up sooner rather than later, the government awards individuals who file viable qui tam actions.
Most qui tam actions are “under seal”
First and foremost, it may comfort you to know that when you file a qui tam action as an individual, you do so “under seal.” What this means is that the contents of your complaint are, and will remain, confidential—at least, for the period of the government’s investigation. The government has 60 days to investigate your complaint and decide whether to take action of its own. If it does, it will take over the lawsuit. If it does not, your employer will never be the wiser if you decide to drop your complaint following the government’s investigation.
Award for bringing a qui tam action
If the government follows through with the lawsuit you initiated, your complaint will no longer remain confidential. However, the government will only pursue a lawsuit if it has a strong likelihood of success. If it is successful, you stand to recover between 15% and 25% of the total monetary recovery, assuming you did not participate in the wrongdoing or fraud. The amount of your award depends on your level of involvement after the government intervenes. If the government does not intervene but you pursue the lawsuit to a successful outcome regardless, your award will be between 25% and 30%.
Involvement in the wrongdoing or fraud is not necessarily grounds for the courts to completely bar you from recovering an award. The courts may simply reduce your award by your level of involvement.
Bringing a qui tam lawsuit can be stressful and overwhelming. Fortunately, you do not have to pursue action on your own, as legal support is available.