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.
Also called the “Lincoln Law,” the False Claims Act gives a clear avenue for whistleblowers to report wrongdoing. Certain states like Wisconsin also utilize this law to allow reporting of cheating state and/or local governments out of money or resources.
The history of the False Claims Act dates back to the Civil War. Fraud was rife in all levels of the government. The fraud mostly including selling faulty equipment and sickly horses to the government to use in battle. Though some federal contractors are still found guilty for these kinds of actions, tax and other financial fraud is more common nowadays.
Essentially, the Lincoln Law allows whistleblowers to act in the name of the government against their employers. Even if the employee was not personally harmed by the actions of their employer, they can still bring suit. Moreover, employees can be rewarded for successfully bringing a suit, from 15 to 30 percent of the total compensation recovered.
Perhaps most importantly, the False Claims Act prevents employers from retaliating against employees for bringing qui tam suits against them. This means employers cannot fire, demote or otherwise punish the worker. One of the best ways to start the process of a qui tam suit is to consult with an employment law attorney.