What is a False Claims Act violation within Workplace Safety and Disaster Relief?
In general, our False Claims Act (“FCA”) practice focuses on guiding whistleblowers who report violations in or participate in government investigations of, unlawful false claims submitted for government funding. The FCA, on the federal level, is found in 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729-3733 and each state also has its own version of the FCA. In addition, there are many laws such as Occupational Safety and Health Act (“OSHA”) and agencies such as Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) that protect workers that complain to their employer about unsafe or unhealthful working conditions or the overbilling of government agencies during disaster relief efforts, respectively.
Since the passage of OSHA in 1970, the United States Congress expanded OSHA’s whistleblower authority to protect workers from discrimination under federal laws. States also have their own version of OSHA and coordinate the complaints with their federal counterparts. OSHA’s whistleblower protections are in Section 11(c), and there are strict filing requirements and deadlines to properly exercise the whistleblower’s rights.
Disaster Relief Fraud often occurs within national emergencies paid for by the United States taxpayers. Federal programs such as FEMA are instilled with managing natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes. In such cases, the government contracts with companies to render relief services with cleanup repaid and population assistance. Those contractors have sought to take advantage of the government by being awarded contracts but either not performing or underperforming services and thereby defrauding the government. These overbilling, billing for services that were not performed, or the contractor’s provision of services or materials below the standard specified in the contract are examples of FCA violations.
Whistleblowers have reported many disaster-relief related violations of the FCA. In one exemplary case, the United States Department of Justice intervened when whistleblowers reported certain construction companies defrauded the government after Hurricane Katria. These construction companies submitted forged records to obtain funds from FEMA while they did not perform the actual work to assist victims of the hurricane. Our attorneys have decades of experience in reviewing these types of fraudulent claims and forged forms and receipts to the government. The practice works with whistleblowers to attain the necessary documents and testimony to increase the likelihood of government intervention. Contact our office for a free confidential consultation. You can call us at (877) 789-9707 or complete the online form on this site.