employment attorney Orange County : California


Many California employees contact us to find out if they are entitled to "whistleblower" protection. Both state and federal laws protect persons who report illegal activity by their employers says employment attorney Orange County. To be protected, an employee usually only has to have a "reasonable but mistaken belief" that illegal activity is afoot. In California, whistleblowers are protected by Labor Code 1102.5 which prohibits retaliation against an employee who complains about illegal activity. This is a very tough law for employers to prevail on, since the very next code section (1102.6) provides that the burden of proof is on the employer to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the whistleblowing about illegal activities had nothing to do with the adverse employment action. According to employment lawyer Orange County, an employee can claim retaliation under the federal qui tam laws, where it is shown that the whistleblower was discharged, demoted, or discriminated against because of lawful acts done in furtherance of a false claims investigation. If the relator basically violates confidentiality and removes tens of thousands of documents indiscriminately, in order to later prove a qui tam case, there will probably be a finding of non-protected activity and the loss of the right to bring a retaliation action under the federal law. When a whistleblower actually sues his or her former employer on behalf of the government for monies lost by the government, it must be shown that the government was actually defrauded and lost money says employment attorney Oakland. The federal false claim act is found at 31 United State Code 3729. A recent case illustrates some of the differences in "reasonable but mistaken" (sufficient to support a wrongful termination claim) and actual false billings. In this case the plaintiff contended that her employer withheld disclosure of new inventions from the government, stating that the contract with the company provided that the government owned the inventions. As the government would have had the right to license and sell these new inventions, the theory of the employee went, the United States was defrauded by not having that right of sale. Unfortunately for the plaintiff, she was unable to allege that the employer ever sought payment from the government and had not submitted a "false claim". Employment attorney San Diego says that false claims take many forms such as fraudulent use of a receipt; unauthorized purchase of government property or use of a

"false record or statement" to avoid payment to the government. Another recent case held that a request for reimbursement that falsely implied compliance with federal rules might constitute a false claim. "Reverse false claims" are also actionable. In one such case, the defendant company falsely represented the value of some aircraft metals as "scrap", whereas in fact it was worth several million dollars. A false claim was properly stated. Finally, it's important to determine if the false claim was in a "condition of participation" or a "condition of payment". No false claim is usually stated if the defendant accused of defrauding the govenment is simply falsely certifying compliance (such as non-discrimination) with a federal program or is actually billing falsely. Financial rewards for whistleblowers can be huge! Under California state laws, up to 30% can be awarded to the whistleblower. Routinely, about 15-20% is awarded in federal false claims actions. As always, this blog is educational in nature and legal advise can only be given by an experienced attorney in your jurisdiction.

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