Whistleblower Laws in Florida – The False Claims Act
In Florida, whistleblowers are employees that either disclose or threaten to disclose to relevant agencies actions by their employers that are illegal and in violation of statutes or regulations, including Medicaid fraud. When the employee has given his or her employer notice of the violation and then is retaliated against for disclosing the violation or threatening to do so to the appropriate agency, he or she may have a claim under the Florida Whistleblower's Act, F.S. §§ 112.3187 et.seq.
Recoveries for Whistleblowers
Under this law, whistleblowers have several remedies available to them including:
- Possible Reinstatement
- Recovery of Lost Wages, Compensation and Benefits
- Recovery of Legal Costs and Lawyer Fees
Florida whistleblowers may be reinstated to their former positions if they were terminated. They may also recover lost wages, compensation and benefits they lost because of the retaliatory action. The law also allows them to recover their costs, including the fees of their attorneys if they prevail in their actions, or if the government settles the case. The court may also enter an injunction against the violating employer preventing the employer from engaging in further activity that is prohibited or retaliating against the employee in the future for reporting.
Florida False Claims ActFlorida also has its own False Claims Act, which is modeled closely on the federal False Claims Act. Under this law, whistleblowers may file a complaint about an employer that filed false or fraudulent claims with the government for payment. Under the law, an employee may file a complaint under Florida's False Claims Act against their employer up to 10 years from the date the violation happened.
If the defendant employer is found to have violated the False Claims Act law and is found to have submitted a fraudulent claim, they may be ordered to pay treble damages to the state as well as a fine ranging between $5,500 and $11,000 for each violation of the law. The whistleblowers who have reported the violations may collect between 15 and 25 percent if the Florida Attorney General joins in their filed action. If the whistleblower is not joined by the Florida Attorney General in the complaint, they may recover between 25 and 30 percent.
At Schechter Legal Group, we intimately understand Florida whistleblower / qui tam law under the False Claims ACT. In fact, we recently, along with the government, settled a claim successfully for $10 million dollars for a lawsuit against the Miami-Dade Transit Authority. We have assisted whistleblower clients in Jacksonville, Tallahassee, Miami, Fort Myers, Melbourne, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater.
Florida's False Claims Act and whistleblower laws are in place to provide protection to employees who come forward with information regarding the illegal activities of their employers. If whistleblowers are retaliated against, they may want to consult with a qui tam attorney. People who wish to report fraudulent claims filed by their employers may also want to seek legal help from a qui tam lawyer like Audrey Schechter of Schechter Legal Group serving New York, Florida and California as well as nationwide.
If you would like to speak to one of our whistleblower lawyers about a potential qui tam lawsuit, feel free to contact us at (727) 223-2178 /schechterlegalgroup.com for a confidential case review.