Whistleblower retaliation is against the law. It’s already difficult for an employee to stand up and report fraud taking place within the work place. Our whistleblower clients tell us that they were often shunned by co-workers they thought were friends. Sometimes their children were no longer allowed to play with the children of co-workers.
Greed, corruption and fraud make everyone feel uneasy. Co-workers often walk on “egg shells” trying on the one hand to support their whistleblower colleague but at the same time not wanting to lose their own job.
Often whistleblowers are placed on paid administrative leave and denied access to company computers and workplaces. Other times they are given assigned to a different office and given trivial duties.
Not of that is even illegal. (A demotion, transfer to a distant city or the denial of raises and promotional opportunities while on leave is be illegal.)
If this sounds bleak, it is. Of course, not every whistleblower experiences these things and sometimes the company doesn’t even know who blew the whistle. Despite these hardships, however, almost 100% of whistleblowers say they would do it again.
Whistleblowers aren’t typically motivated by the award money. They have strong values and don’t like to see people cheat and steal. Some defense lawyers call whistleblowers pirates but we consider them heroes. They are especially heroes when the misconduct they report jeopardizes human lives… doctors performing unnecessary surgeries simply to collect Medicare payments, defense contractors providing defective body armor to our troops.
Most of us work hard for a living. We also believe in the American dream where hard work can mean a better lifestyle. That is why no one likes or respects cheaters and thieves. And make no mistake that fraud against the government is fraud against all taxpayers.
Whistleblower Retaliation Protections Under the False Claims Act
Retaliation against whistleblowers is illegal under federal law and under most state laws too. The federal False Claims Act is best known for the awards paid to whistleblowers but it also has a powerful anti-retaliation provision.
Under the Act, a worker who loses his or her job, is demoted or harassed can receive double lost wages, compensatory damages plus attorneys fees. That is a powerful incentive for companies to insure no harm comes to whistleblowers. In fact, we believe that the anti-retaliation law is why so many companies simply elect to send the worker home with pay and benefits while the whistleblower case is pending. After the case is over, the company will often either negotiate a severance package or work with the employee to find a new position away from the original wrongdoers.
We don’t wear rose colored glasses and know that despite these tough sanctions, some whistleblower retaliation will always occur.
Recently a defense contractor, Mantech International, decided to push the envelope and seek to escape sanctions despite its abhorrent behavior against an employee turned whistleblower.
Kevin Cody worked for Mantech until losing his job. He claims his job loss was pure whistleblower retaliation. Many companies, however, try to skirt the law by suddenly claiming they are “downsizing” or by suddenly giving the whistleblower a poor performance appraisal. Thankfully, jurors are smart and usually see right through these flimsy excuses. (Mantech International claims that Kevin Cody was let go as part of a “reduction in force.”)
After a 5 day trial in Virginia last month, a jury ruled in favor of Cody and against Mantech. The jury awarded Kevin $500,000 in compensatory damages. The court will now enter judgment for the jury award plus two times back pay ($428,923) and will hold a further hearing to determine the amount of “front pay” or future lost pay damages. That’s not all, the jury also awarded Kevin’s wife $300,000 in damages. She too lost her job and is also entitled to double back pay as well.
Mantech says it will appeal.
Tip for would be whistleblowers
When choosing a whistleblower lawyer, discuss any retaliation concerns you may have. If you are still with the employer committing the wrongdoing, make sure that your lawyer has anti-retaliation and employment law background.
At MahanyLaw, we have helped our clients collect over $100 million dollars in whistleblower awards over the last 3 years. We take our cases seriously as well as whistleblower retaliation. In fact, we have an experienced employment lawyer on our staff simply so that we can give our clients total protection and representation should retaliation occur.
Interested in becoming a whistleblower? Call us. All inquiries are without obligation and protected by the attorney – client privilege and kept confidential. We ask, however, that you don’t contact us through a work phone, computer or email account.
For more information, contact attorney Brian Mahany at or by telephone at . You can also visit our whistleblower retaliation and firing page.
MahanyLaw – America’s Whistleblower Lawyers