On June 23, 2008, Employment Law Group Principal Jason Zuckerman will speak at a program titled, “The Emerging Era in Whistleblower Rights and the Public’s Right to Know.” The program, which is sponsored by The Government Accountability Project and American University Washington College of Law, will focus on strategies for effecting national security disclosures and protecting public employees’ First Amendment Rights under recently enacted whistleblower reforms. To register for this event, click here.
Today the Supreme Court issued a ruling on a key issue under the False Claims Act, i.e. whether the False Claims Act includes fraudulent claims made by subcontractors on a federal project or whether it only includes claims submitted directly to the federal government. In Allison Engine v. Thacker , the Court held that a relator asserting claims under Sections 3729(a)(2) and (3) of the False Claims Act cannot simply show that the defendant’s use of a false record or statement resulted in payment or approval of a false claim. Instead, the relator must show that the defendant intended to use a false record or statement to induce the government’s payment or approval of a false claim.
Relying on the plain meaning of Section 3729(a)(3), the Court held that the False Claims Act can be applied to subcontractors and other indirect recipients of government funds. According to the Court, the False Claims Act was intended to expose any conspiracy to defraud the government in getting a false claim approved or paid and therefore, subcontractors who submitted claims for payment that concealed defects in Gen-Sets manufactured for installation on Navy destroyers, can be liable under Sections 3729(a)(2) and (3) of the False Claims Act.
Last week, 112 diverse organizations rallied together to persuade leading U.S. Senate and House officials to enact stronger protections for federal employee whistleblowers. The coalition, led by the Government Accountability Project and the Project on Government Oversight, delivered a letter to legislators advocating prompt reconciliation of the House and Senate versions of whistleblower protection legislation that were enacted in March 2007 and December 2007. The letter also emphasized the need for stronger whistleblower protections, including the right to a jury trial and expansion of protections to scientists and national security whistleblowers.
On June 2, 2008, the U.S. Tax Court proposed new rules for determining IRS whistleblower awards under section 7263. The proposed rules grant the court jurisdiction over appeals of award determinations and include procedures for commencing a whistleblower award action.
Among the proposed amendments are references to actions for redetermination of a whistleblower’s employment status, determination of relief from joint and several liability, and lien or levy, and authorization for electronic service. The press release regarding the proposed amendments to the Tax Court’s Rules of Practice and Procedure is available here.
In an article titled “Ex-Official Sues Over Dismissal in Road Contract Case” The Washington Post reports about Employment Law Group client Stephen Amos’ whistleblower retaliation lawsuit against DDOT Director Emeka Moneme and Interim Attorney General Peter Nickles. Mr. Amos, a former DDOT employee, was terminated because he exposed improper city road contracts between Fort Myer Construction Company and Peake Construction which allowed Fort Myer to fraudulently qualify for federal funds. The Employment Law Group® Law Firm is representing Mr. Amos in a retaliation action under the D.C. Whistleblower Protection Act and Section 1983.