Example of a Whistleblower Case We Handled - Whistleblower Retaliation/False Claims Act

Both state and federal laws prohibit employers from terminating or taking adverse employment actions against employees who report unlawful or unsafe activity in the workplace. We represented a delivery driver for a national company that provides oxygen and other respiratory services to patients at home. The company received federal funding from Medicare for providing this service. Medicare determined how much to pay the company based on invoices the company submitted. Our client discovered that his supervisor was submitting invoices to Medicare for services that were never provided. When he confronted the supervisor, the supervisor ordered him to stay quiet and threatened that further complaints would put the company out of business and everyone would lose their jobs. Our client was faced with the difficult choice of going over his supervisor’s head and risking the loss of his own job and his coworkers’ or staying silent about this unlawful activity. He decided he had to report it. Before he did, he gave his supervisor one more chance to come clean, secretly recording the conversation. During that conversation, the supervisor admitted to submitting false claims to Medicare, but stated that other supervisors did it as well and the company would simply look the other way. Our client then brought the recording to a meeting with corporate and confronted them with it. Corporate promised to look into it, but ultimately failed to undertake any meaningful investigation. His supervisor learned of his report and began to retaliate against him by issuing written warnings for alleged performance issues and assigning him less favorable delivery routes. Soon after, our client was fired.

We filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Maine Human Rights Commission, alleging violations of The False Claims Act, Medicare fraud, and the Maine Human Rights Act. When the Commission did not issue a decision within 180 days, we pulled the case and filed suit in federal district court, seeking lost wages, compensatory and punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees. During discovery, we got an order from the court allowing us to withhold the tape recording until after the supervisor’s deposition. When we deposed the supervisor, he adamantly denied any wrongdoing. We then confronted him with the tape recording where he admitted the wrongdoing. We also got the court to order the company to turn over all of its billing records which it fought vehemently against. Finally, we deposed the corporate manager and cross examined him about the company’s failure to undertake any meaningful investigation and the decision to terminate our client. After depositions, the company decided to avoid further litigation and offered our client a generous settlement.

This was a hard-fought case from the start. The company adamantly denied any wrongdoing and refused to provide any of the documents we requested without a court order. Despite his best efforts to find other work, our client was unemployed for the year and a half it took to litigate the case. To add insult to injury, the company contested his claim for unemployment benefits, requiring him to go to a hearing. We represented him at that hearing and got him the benefits he needed to help support his family during this difficult time. Ultimately, our client was glad that he stood up for himself and did the right thing. If you or someone you know has been fired for reporting unlawful activity at work, call 207.874.0905 for a free legal consultation today.

Maine Employment Lawyer Blog - Retaliation
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