Employment Attorneys Serving Hayward, California
Issues involving employment can be very stressful. Clients approach Stephen Danz and Associates often because they know someone who we have assisted. Our firm is one of the largest plaintiff-side law firms in California. Some of our clients seek advice on how to handle a co-worker or colleague who has it in for them and wants to get them fired. Others ask us how to report company violations as a whistleblower anonymously. We are dedicated to representing employees in Hayward and throughout California.
Each of the employment lawyers on our team has the experience and knowledge to represent employees in both state and federal courts. We are highly aware of the difficulties in employment law cases and therefore leverage our resources and abilities to optimally bring forth cases. Our legal counselors are highly specialized in handling complex employment lawsuits where private individuals trust us to bring forth their cases in local, state and federal courts. Contact us today for a complimentary consultation via our online form or call our office.
What types of False Claims or Whistleblowing Cases do We Handle?
One of the most common types of false claims act or whistleblower cases that we handle is the False Claims Against Public Entity violations under Government Code Section 12653. Here is more information about this important law. Government Code section 12650 et seq. is the California False Claims Act (“CFCA”). Government Code section 12651 imposes liability for damages and a civil penalty on any person who knowingly presents a false claim against the state or a political subdivision or who engages in certain other specified activities related to false claims. Government Code section 12652 sets forth procedures for bringing a civil action by the Attorney General, the prosecuting authority for the political subdivision, or a private party in the name of the state or a political subdivision to enforce the liability imposed by Government Code section 12651.
When we describe this law to our clients, we normally start with that fact that this is a whistleblower protection provision, which is construed broadly by courts to give those who report the opportunity to do so without fear of discrimination. Under Government Code § 12653, an employee is entitled to all relief necessary to make that employee whole, if the employee is discharged, demoted, suspended, threatened, harassed, or in any other manner discriminated against in the terms and conditions of his or her employment because of lawful acts done by the employee or associated others in furtherance of an action under Gov. Code § 12653 or other efforts to stop one or more violations of the CFCA.
What Relief is Available for Discrimination Based on Reporting California FCA Violations?
- Reinstatement with the same seniority status the employee would have had but for the discrimination.
- Two times the amount of back pay, interest on the back pay, and compensation for any special damages sustained as a result of the discrimination.
- Where appropriate, punitive damages.
The defendant will also be required to pay litigation costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees. An action under Gov. Code § 12653 may be brought in the appropriate superior court of the state. Please remember that the action may not be brought more than three years after the date when the retaliation occurred. Even though governmental agencies may not be sued under the CFCA for making false claims, a governmental entity may be sued under the CFCA’s whistleblower protection provision. This is crucial to remember for those employees of government agencies. Because the CFCA is patterned on a similar federal statute, courts may rely on cases interpreting the federal statute for guidance in interpreting the CFCA.
What Are the Elements of a California FCA Cause of Act?
- The employee was engaged in protected conduct.
- The employer knew the employee engaged in such conduct.
- The employer retaliated against the employee because of the conduct.
In general, to constitute protected conduct, the employee’s conduct must be in furtherance of a false claims action. The employee does not have to file a false claims action or show a false claim was actually made; however, the employee must have reasonably based suspicions of a false claim, and it must be reasonably possible for the employee’s conduct to lead to a false claims action. A disgruntled employee’s expression of dissatisfaction with his treatment on the job, not reflective of reasonably based suspicions of an imminent false claim, is not protected activity under the CFCA.
The requirement that it be reasonably possible for the employee’s conduct to lead to a false claims action does not mean that a plaintiff is not protected under the CFCA unless he or she has discovered grounds for a legitimate false claim action. Plaintiff need only show a genuine and reasonable concern that the government was possibly being defrauded in order to establish that he or she engaged in protected conduct. Thus, it is not ordinarily necessary for a court to confirm the merits of a potential qui tam suit in order to determine whether the plaintiff has engaged in protected conduct.
When the employer provides administrative remedies, an employee alleging a violation of Government Code section 12653 must exhaust administrative remedies prior to filing a lawsuit, even when no internal damage remedy is available or a plaintiff seeks only money damages, so that resort to the courts is inevitable. Contact our office for help on launching the administrative process.