Can Qui Tam Cases Expose Me To Liability?

Tony Munter, a Qui Tam attorney in DC, answers questions about the effects of filing a qui tam case on an individual’s current and future employment. Contact Tony Munter if you want your case to be evaluated for a free initial consultation.

If you are the plaintiff relator and you are not directing the fraud then no, the government will take action against you. Obviously that does not address what might happen to a person at work for complaining to the boss about it. That may be a different matter but in terms of what the government would do, it would be highly unlikely for the government to go after a plaintiff relator under that theory.

Filing a qui tam claim should not expose you to criminal liability. There is one example of a plaintiff in a whistleblower reward action – not a False Claims Act action but an IRS whistleblower case – where the plaintiff was prosecuted. That was a pretty extreme case. It is a very unusual, weird case and it’s very rare for a whistleblower to be prosecuted and sent to jail for any reason, and again that was under the IRS whistleblower’s law and not under the False Claims Act. There was also a huge reward.

If one is charged with a crime, that is an issue for a criminal lawyer. In cases where nobody has been charged with a crime, assuming that they did not plan or direct the fraud, then you can file a Qui Tam action. If there is a crime which the individual is a part of pursuing, then it’s a point to raise and of course discuss with counsel.

Can Filing a Qui Tam Case Affect My Employment?

It is likely that complaining about fraud to one’s boss may in fact affect one’s employment. If that has happened then it maybe under the False Claims Act Anti-retaliation Provisions where a client would have an action. You know that under the False Claims Act  31 U.S. C. Section 3730(h), a claim for retaliation may be possible under those circumstances.

If the employer never finds out about a Qui Tam case being filed at least not for sometime, then it may be possible to avoid any such retaliatory situations.

What About Future Employment?

What usually affects the employment status of a Qui Tam relator is usually a situation where the case is so offensive that the plaintiff gets into trouble at work by complaining about it to their boss and that obviously might have an effect or just ahead of that. Obviously a large contentious Qui Tam case might at some point have an effect on an employment situation. It is a very long process though and it is usually possible for a relator to find an employment before anyone really knows what is going on.

Future employers may know you filed a qui tam case. Most of the time, even in cases that are not taken by the government, the cases are eventually unsealed and usually dismissed relatively instantaneously if they are not successful. When that happens, an employer could find the case if they are really good at searching the government’s court docket system. Right now, that is not so easy to search, but it could happen.

So the reality is right now if you file a Qui Tam case and it is declined and dismissed, it is pretty hard to find. That is not to say it is impossible but it is difficult to find that filing. Obviously if the case is successful, it may involve a large collection so that may become newsworthy and people may find out about it but you would have the compensation of having won the case.