If you are a state or federal employee, or an employee of a government contractor, and have learned of fraudulent contracting practices, contact the qui tam attorneys at the Chicago Overtime Law Center today.
Governments at all levels want to prevent waste, corruption, and being defrauded by government contractors. Particularly when government budgets are tight, there is a strong incentive for government to rein in spending and eliminate any overcharging by contractors. Government contracting is big business, with thousands of contractors providing services to federal, state, and local governments in many sectors, from defense contracting to public works contracts, Medicare to janitorial services. Fraud on the government harms taxpayers and ultimately impacts the quality and variety of services that government provides to its citizens.
Governments frequently do not know when they are being defrauded. Resources for the kind of oversight needed are limited, and often the only individuals who know of the fraud are employees of the contractor. Because of this limited ability to investigate and discover fraud, the federal government enacted the False Claims Act.
The False Claims Act creates an incentive for whistleblowing by employees of government contractors. It allows individuals – called “relators” under the Act – to bring suit on behalf of the federal government against government contractors who submit false claims for compensation. Under the Act, successful whistleblowers receive a percentage of the money recovered for the government. These are often called “qui tam” actions, which is a shortening of a Latin expression meaning to sue on behalf of oneself and on the behalf of the government.
Qui tam actions are allowed only in very limited circumstances, including exposing government contractor fraud, falsely marketing items as patented when they are not, and providing arms to an enemy of the United States. Qui tam suits require significant factual detail about the fraud – much more than the basic facts contained in a typical civil complaint. The suit is filed under seal, and the Department of Justice is notified and investigates the claim. The government can opt to intervene in the case and take over prosecution of the claims, or the government can choose to remain on the sidelines and allow the whistleblower to continue to pursue the case on behalf of the government. In either event, a successful plaintiff is entitled to some portion of the recovery, as well as payment of attorneys’ fees and costs.
The State of Illinois has its own False Claims Act, which generally follows the provisions of the federal law and targets contractors who defraud the State. In addition, the Illinois Whistleblower Reward and Protection Act provides for payment to a successful plaintiff of up to 30% of the amount recovered. Illinois provides strong whistleblower protection provisions, particularly for government employees who blow the whistle. The federal False Claims Act also has protections for whistleblowers. However, any individual exposing corruption must recognize that there are personal and professional risks.
Whistleblowing requires courage, but it can also bring rewards – for the individual plaintiff, and for society at large. If you are thinking of bringing suit to expose corrupt contracting, you should contact an experienced Illinois quit tam attorney today. The attorneys at the Chicago Overtime Law Center have extensive experience with whistleblower suits. We understand the legal intricacies of a potential claim, and the substantial personal risk involved. We will thoroughly investigate your claim, and pursue it with professionalism and discretion. Call our offices today at (312) 869-4095.