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and Earn a Reward
Do you have evidence of fraud against New York State?
Our whistleblower lawyers can help you take advantage of NY state False Claims Act laws.
Most people have heard of the federal False Claims Act, but it's less known that many individual states have their own whistleblower laws too. New York is one such state and it has some of the most comprehensive whistleblower protections in the U.S.
What is the New York State False Claims Act?
New York is one of 29 states with its own False Claims Act, which holds fraudsters accountable and provides rewards for whistleblowers. The law, which was enacted in 2007, is one of the strongest in the country. Like other whistleblower statutes, NY's law allows people who know of fraud to file a lawsuit on behalf of the government.
These whistleblowers, also known as qui tam plaintiffs, are entitled to a monetary reward between 15 and 30% of the total settlement or verdict.
Although the Empire State has adopted many of the same provisions as the federal False Claims Act, there are some key differences that are very beneficial for NY whistleblowers. Unlike the federal law, the New York FCA:
- Allows for tax fraud claims
- Has a longer statute of limitations (6 years under the federal FCA vs. 10 years in New York)
- Makes it easier for whistleblowers to prove their case, even without specific documentation
- Includes fraud against cities, towns, villages, school districts and other local public entities
- Has strong anti-retaliation protections under both the FCA and state labor laws
If you are aware of fraud happening in New York State, consider blowing the whistle. Strong state laws will protect you, and you may receive a significant reward.
Halperin Bikel NYC-based attorneys know how to package
your New York State False Claims Act case to get the Attorney
General’s attention and maximize your reward
What is Covered Under the NYS False Claims Act
Fraud can happen at any company or organization that receives government funding or payments. Commonly, fraud can look like a hospital overcharging Medicare or Medicaid; a defense contractor knowingly delivering substandard products; or a small business with a government contract using bribes or kickbacks to increase their profits.
In the Empire State, the False Claims Act covers virtually every type of fraud you may encounter.
The law includes:
- Billing for a false or fraudulent claim for payment (for example, a medical office submitting a claim to Medicaid for services that were never performed)
- Creating false records to support a fraudulent claim (in the example above, if a nurse intentionally filled out a patient's chart incorrectly, it may be a separate offense)
- Withholding money that belongs to the government (for example, a business that collects sales tax but never submits it to the state)
- Knowingly buying or receiving property from a government agent in violation of NY's anti-corruption laws
- Concealing an obligation to pay money to the state (for example, someone hiding revenue to decrease their tax rate and avoid paying taxes)
Plaintiffs who report these or another type of fraud covered by the state FCA may be entitled to a cash reward.
The NY False Claims Act Includes Tax Fraud
New York is one of the only states that includes tax fraud in its False Claims Act law. In most cases, federal and state FCA laws do not cover fraud related to unpaid taxes or unreported income. Instead, tax whistleblowers must pursue a case through the federal IRS Whistleblower Program.
Although IRS whistleblowers are still entitled to job protections and financial rewards, there is one major downside to this program: plaintiffs cannot privately prosecute the violation with their own lawyer if the IRS chooses not to take up the case. Whistleblowers only have one shot to convince the IRS to prosecute the case on their behalf, with no right of appeal or private prosecution.
However, NYS does allow tax whistleblowers to bring their own claims against tax fraudsters with unpaid state taxes.
If the damages in the case are more than $350,000 and the defendant has net income or sales of $1 million per year or more, the plaintiff can prosecute tax claims on their own, without the NYS government's legal support.
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Whistleblowers Are Protected from Employer Retaliation
Studies show that upwards of 20% of whistleblowers experience retaliation for reporting their employers' fraud.
This retaliation may take the form of:
- Suspension, with or without pay
- Bullying or harassment
- Giving less desirable shifts, projects or work placements
- Other harmful behaviors that make it difficult for you to be at work
Luckily, New York State doesn't tolerate these actions. The state False Claims Act includes extensive protections and remedies for employees who have experienced retaliation.
The law applies to current as well as former employees, meaning that even if you were fired or voluntarily left your job because of a harmful work environment, you are still protected under the FCA. It also applies whether or not you first reported the fraud internally.
Victims of retaliation may receive:
- Double back pay, plus interest
- Reinstatement to their job or a job with equivalent seniority
- Reinstatement of benefits
- An injunction preventing their employer from continuing to retaliate against them
- Attorneys' fees and court costs
- Additional special damages
NY's labor laws also address whistleblower retaliation. Section 740 of New York Labor Law prohibits employers from punishing employees for reporting fraud to law enforcement, a regulatory agency, a public official or another government body.
However, in contrast to the NY False Claims Act, the Labor Law requires the whistleblower to first report their concerns to their supervisor and give them reasonable time to respond in order to receive legal remedies. The only exception to this is if there is an immediate threat to someone's safety.
Finally, section 741 of NY Labor Law is a related provision that allows for healthcare whistleblowers to collect an additional $10,000 if their employer acted in bad faith. The court may apply this law if the employer has engaged in conduct that posed a "substantial and specific danger" to a certain patient or general public health.
What Rewards Can I Get Reporting Fraud in New York?
Like the federal False Claims Act, the state law allows for significant rewards for plaintiffs. If the NY Attorney General takes up your case, you can earn between 15 and 25% of the money recovered by the state, whether through a settlement or verdict. If the government declines and you pursue a case with your own lawyer, you can receive between 25 and 30%. This reward is in addition to court fees and attorney costs, which the court usually awards.
NY whistleblower law also allows the state to collect triple damages. Fines in New York are between $6,000 and $12,000 per violation, and most cases involve multiple, even hundreds of individual violations.
Multiply these numbers by three, and the potential recovery becomes very large, very quickly, i.e. the larger the government's recovery, the larger the whistleblower reward.
Although the outcome of the case is largely dependent on the type and amount of fraud, there are some factors that can affect the amount of the whistleblower's reward:
- The thoroughness and importance of the information they provided
- How helpful they and their lawyer were during the investigation
- The skills of their lawyer
- Whether the fraud involved a safety issue
- Whether the case was prosecuted privately or by the government
Am I Eligible to File a Whistleblower Lawsuit?
Are you eligible to receive an award for reporting fraud under New York's False Claims Act?
There are some important factors to consider when answering that question:
- Are you within the statute of limitations?
- At the federal level, whistleblowers are generally barred from filing a lawsuit 6 years after the date of fraud. NY gives whistleblowers 10 years, but you must ensure that you are within the legal time limit to file a claim and receive a reward.
- Do you have new and useful information?
- A state or private attorney will only take up your case if you are the first person to share compelling and previously unknown information about fraud. In NYS, you do not have to have specific evidence, but you must provide a reasonable indication that fraud is happening.
- Were you the mastermind behind the fraud?
- Even if you were involved in the fraud, you may still be able to receive a whistleblower reward for coming forward. If you simply participated in the scheme, you are entitled to a typical 15 to 30% recovery. If you were the leader of it, the court may reduce your award to less than 15%. Those who have been criminally convicted in the fraud are not eligible to receive a reward.
Whether you think you meet the eligibility requirements or not, if you have information about fraud, the best thing you can do is contact a lawyer. An experienced whistleblower attorney can help you determine whether you can file a case, what your next steps should be, and how much you may receive as a reward.
If you have questions about your eligibility or for a no-cost no-obligation assessment of your information and potential case, we hope you will contact our office. We are exclusively focused on helping whistleblowers.