Texas Whistleblower Claims Attorneys
A whistleblower is a person who alerts a law enforcement or other government agency about a possible illegal activity. The United States Department of Labor (DOL) states that the Whistleblower Protection Program of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enforces whistleblower provisions of over 20 whistleblower statutes.
While many whistleblowers are internal employees of the companies they are reporting, whistleblowers can also be third parties who learned about the misconduct. In some cases, whistleblowers may report the misconduct to entities other than law enforcement or other government agencies, such as newspapers or other media.
Do you think that you might have a possible whistleblower claim? You could be afforded several protections and you should not be afraid of the consequences of doing the right thing.
Leichter Law Firm PC understands how to handle whistleblower claims and can help you achieve the most successful resolution to your case. Call (956) 205-0884 or fill out an online contact form to have our Texas whistleblower lawyers provide a complete evaluation of your case during a free consultation.
Do I Need A Whistleblower Claims Lawyer?
Many whistleblower actions become qui tam lawsuits, which are brought under the False Claims Act and reward whistleblowers when the government recovers lost funds. These claims can become complicated when a government agency amends a complaint or files a new complaint.
You want to have an attorney for assistance with the many issues that can arise in a whistleblower claim. Quick action is important in whistleblower claims because of the “First to File” rule, under which a qui tam whistleblower needs to be the first whistleblower to file suit or their action can be barred.
When you hire a lawyer, they can independently investigate your case to collect important evidence and help prove your case. The attorney will be able to help you navigate the whistleblower claims process so your action can satisfy strict statutes of limitations.
You will be required to have qualified legal representation in order to pursue a qui tam lawsuit. Lawyers are not required in IRS fraud cases, but are still recommended as all whistleblower cases involve massive amounts of paperwork that take several hours to go through.
Why Choose Leichter Law Firm PC To Handle My Case?
The whistleblower protection attorneys of Leichter Law Firm PC have secured multiple verdicts and settlements for our clients in a wide range of employment law cases. As it relates to whistleblower claims, our firm understands the tremendous stress that these actions take on the people involved and we will do everything possible to ensure your safety.
Louis Leichter is a recipient of the AV Preeminent rating from Martindale-Hubbell, and David Langenfeld is Board Certified as a Specialist in Labor and Employment Law. Mr. Leichter is a member of the Travis County Bar Association and State Bar of Texas while Mr. Langenfeld is admitted to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, and United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.
Leichter Law Firm PC is committed to working closely with every person we represent. You can know that you will always have your phone call answered and you will get answers to all of your questions.
You also have nothing to lose by working with our firm because we represent individuals on a contingency fee basis. You will not be charged anything until you obtain a monetary award.
Types of Whistleblower Claims Cases We Handle
Many whistleblower claims involve federal laws because so many federal statutes provide whistleblower protections, but Texas also has its own state law relating to whistleblowers. The Texas Whistleblower Act is found in Chapter 554 of the Texas Government Code.
Texas Government Code § 554.002 establishes that a state or local governmental entity cannot “suspend or terminate the employment of, or take other adverse personnel action against, a public employee who in good faith reports a violation of law by the employing governmental entity or another public employee to an appropriate law enforcement authority.” When an employee is subjected to an adverse personnel action in violation of that statute, Texas Government Code § 554.003(a) provides that the employee is entitled to sue for injunctive relief, actual damages, court costs, and attorney fees.
Under Texas Government Code § 554.003(b), an employee may also be entitled to reinstatement to their former position or an equivalent position, compensation for lost wages, and reinstatement of fringe benefits and seniority rights. Texas Government Code § 554.003(c) establishes that the maximum damages that can be awarded in these cases are limited to $50,000 when the employing state or local governmental entity has fewer than 101 employees in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the calendar year in which the suit is filed or in the preceding year, $100,000 when the employing state or local governmental entity has more than 100 and fewer than 201 employees, $200,000 when the employing state or local governmental entity has more than 200 and fewer than 501 employees, and $250,000 when the employing state or local governmental entity has more than 500 employees.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a protected disclosure?
A protected disclosure involves reporting anything that a person reasonably believes constitutes a violation of any federal law, regulation, or rule, or gross mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety. Federal employees can make protected disclosures by telling supervisors or members of Congress, reporting issues to the Office of Inspector General (OIG) for their agencies, or filing complaints with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC).
What does it mean when my case is “under seal?”
A qui tam action is filed confidentially under seal in federal district court in accordance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. When a case is under seal, that means that the information involved is extremely sensitive and not a matter of public record. When your case is under seal, the only people you can discuss your case with is your attorney and the Department of Justice. In other words, you cannot talk about your case with friends or family. A person who discusses their case in defiance of it being under seal may forfeit potential awards or, worse yet, irreparably damage their case. A whistleblower obviously enjoys anonymity while a case is under seal, but the case will become public record and a whistleblower is usually revealed after the case concludes.
What if I participated in the criminal activity?
When a person reporting wrongdoing in a whistleblower claim was a participant in the illegal activity, that will not necessarily prohibit the person from collecting an award. In many cases, the government relies on such people to come forward to report misconduct in the first place. The award may be reduced, depending on a person’s amount of participation and the harm caused. Unless the whistleblower is convicted of a crime stemming from their report or was the actual mastermind of a criminal plot, they should still be able to recover an award in a whistleblower case.
Whistleblower Claims Statistics
According to Whistleblower Protection Program investigation data, 3,303 cases were received in 2017. This was the second-highest figure of the 10-year period, behind only the 3,355 cases reported in 2016.
In 2017, 20 of the cases received related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), five related to the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA), 106 related to the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR21), 90 related to the Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA), 12 related to the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), 59 related to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 53 related to the Energy Reorganization Act (ERA), 293 related to the Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA), 74 related to the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), seven related to the Moving Ahead for Progress in the. 21st Century Act (MAP-21), 22 related to the National Transit Systems Security Act (NTSSA), 1,932 related to OSHA, seven related to the Pipeline Safety Improvement Act (PSIA), 186 related to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), 13 related to the Seaman’s Protection Act (SPA), and 424 related to the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA).
In 2017, 31 of the cases completed related to the ACA, six related to the AHERA, 109 related to the AIR21, 89 related to the CFPA, eight related to the CPSIA, 70 related to the EPA, 47 related to the ERA, 315 related to the FRSA, 66 related to the FSMA, seven related to the MAP-21, 19 related to the NTSSA, 1,876 related to OSHA, eight related to the PSIA, 200 related to the SOX, 10 related to the SPA, and 487 related to the STAA.
Whistleblower Protection Program investigation data also showed that 3.432 determinations were made in cases in 2017, the most of any year in the past 10. Of these, 49 complaints had merit, 409 complaints were settled, 388 were settled otherwise, 1,688 were dismissed, 89 were kicked out, and 809 were withdrawn.
In its 2017 Annual Report to Congress about the Whistleblower Program, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reported that in that fiscal year, the agency ordered whistleblower awards totaling almost $50 million for a dozen individuals. The annual report states that the program has awarded approximately $160 million in whistleblower awards to 46 individuals since the SEC issued its first award in 2012.
According to the SEC, the top 10 whistleblower awards have been $30 million in September 2014, $22 million in August 2016, $20 million in November 2016, $17 million in June 2016, $14 million in September 2013, $7 million in January 2017, $5.5 million in January 2017, $5-$6 million in May 2016, $4 million in September 2016, and $3.5 million in May 2016.
Contact a Texas Whistleblower Claims Attorney Today
If you have a whistleblower claim, it will be important for you to make sure that your action is properly handled. A whistleblower needs to be prepared to share as much information as possible with a government agency, and you want to make sure that you handle everything on your end correctly.
Leichter Law Firm PC is not afraid to take on major companies, and we assist employees at businesses of all sizes. You can have our lawyers review your case and help you understand all of your legal options as soon as you call (956) 205-0884 or contact us online to set up a free consultation.