One of the biggest sources of workplace harassment is targeting of whistle-blowers for retribution, censure or retaliation by the employer. Fortunately, there are federal protections in place to protect people who report unfair or unsafe employment practices.
A Wisconsin construction company owner has been sentenced to two years’ probation for his scheme of paying his workers less than the prevailing wage for roofers working on a housing project in the local area. The man has also been ordered to pay over $659,000 in restitution in addition to the $1 million he has already been ordered to pay to settle a whistleblower lawsuit.
Qui tam is a segment that is clearly outlined under the False Claims Act. This act is one of the best pieces of whistle-blower protection legislation in the United States. The qui tam segment of the act allows the whistle-blower to sue the wrongdoer in the name of the federal government. The government also reserves to right to join the action or intervene. Some states, including Wisconsin, have passed laws that are very similar to qui tam.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued whistle-blower claims under Section 806 of the Corporate Fraud Accountability Act of 2002, which is part of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, also known as the “SOX Act.” This means that there are new, definitive procedures for handling whistle-blower complaints, under the SOX Act.
A whistle-blower is defined as any individual that brings to light violations or illicit activity performed by an employer or organization. Whistle-blowers across the U.S. and Wisconsin are often subjected to scrutiny and retaliation after bringing their allegations to officials, which may lead the individual or group to seek legal advice. After reporting violations of federal regulations, it is important to know your rights and if you are protected under government whistle-blower laws.
Reports of an employee becoming a whistleblower without suffering adverse consequences have become much more common with the enactment of state and federal laws, such as the Whistleblower Protection Act, to protect them. Occasionally, though, the facts of a given situation can create a confusing set of circumstances in which an individual fired for creating a danger to public health might be a legitimate whistleblower.
“Other people’s money.” The phrase carries a subtle meaning, conveying the impression of some that when – especially in situations when those “other people” are the taxpayers of Wisconsin – it is acceptable to be wasteful or even corrupt in handling that money. The federal government deals with budgets and projects that amount to millions and billions of dollars, after all; given such massive scale, some companies that do business with the government cannot resist the temptation to engage in fiscal carelessness or even chicanery.
Not every claim under the U.S. False Claims Act (FCA) involves an employee accusing his or her employer of illegal practices that defraud the government. Sometimes a contractor can also act in the capacity of a whistle-blower.
When Wisconsin employees witness wrongdoing in their workplace that defrauds the federal government, they may feel powerless to do anything about it. But U.S. law dictates this couldn’t be further from the truth. Whistleblowers in this situation, called qui tam whistleblowers, are protected by a law passed in 1863.
The latest state budget includes a surprise for potential whistle-blowers who would seek to report Medicaid fraud under the auspices of the Wisconsin False Claims for Medical Assistance Act: the act has been repealed.