How the California False Claims Act Compares to the Federal False Claims Act
The California False Claims Act provides incentives to whistleblowers to disclose fraud involving California state contracts. While it is modeled on the federal False Claims Act, there are some key differences an experienced whistleblower lawyer can explain.
Similarities do the Federal False Claims Act
Many of the types of fraud such as overbilling and billing for services that weren’t provided are the same. Just as with a federal action, the state Attorney General can decide to accept/intervene in the case or permit the claimant to proceed on his/her own.
In California, just as with federal courts, the original claim is kept under seal for at least 60 days. The state can request that the claim be kept under seal beyond the 60-day period.
Of key importance is that the employers cannot retaliate against employees who disclose fraud by their employer. This means employers can’t fire, threaten, refuse to promote, demote, or harass the employee. If retaliation does occur, the employee can file a claim against the employer demanding job reinstatement, double back pay, interest, legal fees, and other applicable damages such as compensation for lost benefits during the time between the retaliation and reinstatement.
Differences from the federal False Claims Act
Under the California law, if someone mistakenly files a false claim (they don’t intend to defraud when they file the claim but there is an overbilling or some other wrong), the employer can be liable if it fails to disclose the inadvertent claim within a reasonable time frame. Under federal law, the claimant must intend to defraud the federal government.
The percentages paid to whistleblowers are different.
- Intervention. If the government intervenes in a California False Claims Act case and the case is successful, the whistleblower can be awarded 15-33% of the recovery. At the federal level, the whistleblower can only receive somewhere between 15-25% of the recovery.
- No intervention. If the government declines to take the case and the claimant must proceed on his own, then in California the whistleblower can receive 25-50% of any recovery. The federal payout is between 25-30%
At Stephen Danz & Associates, we handle both federal and California False Claim Act cases. We have decades of experience guiding whistleblowers through the disclosure and litigation process. We have convenient to reach offices throughout California. To speak with an experienced attorney, call (877)789-9707 today. Se habla espanol.