Whistleblower and Qui Tam Attorneys in Santa Clara
We are Whistleblower Attorneys in Santa Clara specializing in whistleblower and Qui Tam litigation. Whistleblower and Qui Tam litigation continue to be one of the fastest growing, and grossing, areas of law in Santa Clara (and for that matter the entire Bay Area) due to the type of industries in our region. In fact, healthcare and technology sector contractors produce the highest number of whistleblowers. We’ve received complaints from some of the largest employers in Santa Clara, San Jose, and surrounding cities. Should you be in need of a Whistleblower Attorney in Santa Clara, you need to contact Stephen Danz & Associates Santa Clara Whistleblower division today at 877-789-9707.
In addition, whistleblowers in Santa Clara have been increasingly active due to the public’s frustrations with corporate greed, especially in the health care industry, expanding protections to individual whistleblowers at our northern California courts, and the high monetary rewards. Aside from the financial incentive for whistleblowers, laws are constantly updated to fuel the field’s meteoric growth.
For example, in 2015, the U.S. Justice Department reported that it settled False Claims Act (“FCA”) cases with over 450 hospitals for more than $250 million related to improper billing of Medicare. This area was a significant component in the Justice Department’s 2015 total FCA recovery which amounted to $3.5 billion! The IRS recently reported that in Fiscal Year 2015 it paid out more than $103 million to whistleblowers from settlements in successful lawsuits.
As the nation’s most employee-friendly state relating to employee-rights and equipped with some of the best whistleblower and qui tam attorneys, it is no wonder that California’s whistleblower actions, and their accompanying protections, remain the most extensive in the country. It follows suit, therefore, that some of the biggest FCA settlements involve Santa Clara and San Jose area companies.
Protection for Santa Clara Whistleblowers
In recent years, our attorneys have reported, and utilized, an expanded list of protections for whistleblowers. In 2016 alone, new laws expanded whistleblower protections to family members of whistleblowers, prohibiting employers from discharging, discriminating, retaliating or taking any adverse action against an employee who is the family member of a perceived or actual whistleblower. (Labor Code Sections 98.6 and 1102.5.)
Also, California has its own Whistleblower Protection Act which specifically protects state employees against retribution from reporting waste, fraud, abuse of authority, violation of law or threat to public health. (Government Code Sections 8547 et seq.) In addition, a government employee may not use official authority to influence employees with the intent to intimidate, threaten, or coerce someone from his or her protected activity right.
Importantly, in late 2014, a local California appellate court interpreted these anti-retaliation protections broadly when it expanded whistleblower protections to employees who were terminated due to their employer’s mistaken belief that they engaged in the protected activity of reporting employer violations.
California Corporate Securities Law, Federal Securities Acts, and Dodd-Frank Act
As a sign of things to come in 2016, lawmakers closed some of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act’s anti-retaliation loopholes by introducing the Whistleblower Augmented Reward and Non-Retaliation (WARN Act). The Act increases the maximum cap placed on those who successfully bring federal securities fraud lawsuits to 30% of the settlement amount. It also expands protections afforded to whistleblowers against retaliation by preventing companies from requiring whistleblowers to waive their rights or reveal their communications with the government. An example of this occurred late last year when the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) fined a business $130,000 for requiring workers to sign confidentiality agreements that forbade them from discussing potential securities law violations with anyone external to the company before obtaining permission from the company’s attorneys.
Another groundbreaking feature of the WARN Act is the introduction of civil remedies and punitive damages to whistleblowers that are discriminated against after reporting their employer’s violations. California’s anti-securities fraud protections were bolstered at the end of 2013. This brought California’s Securities Law of 1968 to more closely align with the federal securities laws. Consequently, California whistleblowers receive similar or greater protections as any others against retaliation when reporting securities fraud.
California False Claims Act and Medicare/Medicaid Healthcare Fraud Retaliation Protection
The California FCA is modeled after the federal FCA. In general, the FCA includes anti-retaliation language where the employee must establish that there was a causal connection between the employee’s participation in “protected activity” and the employer’s retaliation because of that activity. (31 USC 3730(h).) Protected activity includes instances where the employee opposed the employer’s attempt to obtain false or fraudulent payment from the government. Our Santa Clara based attorneys are aware of many complaints from health care workers in the area. Santa Clara has some of the finest medical facilities in the country such as Stanford Health Care / Stanford Hospital, El Camino Hospital, Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara Medical Center, and Good Samaritan Hospital.
Fraud in the Healthcare Sector
Most often, the FCA is used within the healthcare industry to stem out fraud related to billing, insufficient staffing, and kickbacks. Examples of these are when a provider of health care services such as a physician/doctor, nursing home, or hospital bills for services that were not provided or the bill was submitted at an improperly higher rate of reimbursement for the services. Additionally, health care companies illegally bill the government for substandard services by fraudulently using higher diagnostic codes or by falsely certifying the medical necessity of medical procedures.
Also, health care companies may realize that they have credit from their services that they have to repay to the government but the companies do not reimburse the government within the 60-day time frame. At that point, the nonpayment becomes a false claim under the FCA. Health care employees, contractors, workers, vendors, or anyone with knowledge then contact our attorneys to complain about this fraudulent conduct.
To combat retribution, the Health and Safety Code Section 1278.5 prohibits retaliation against patients, physicians, nurses, and medical staff who whistleblow to the government or its agencies on patient care issues at a healthcare facility. Our well-versed attorneys then guide the whistleblower every step of the way.
To review your case, speak to our Whistleblower Attorney Santa Clara and qui tam attorneys today for a free consultation. Call us at 877-789-9707.
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“Mr. Danz and Ms. Porter, Thank you very much for your legal assistance a few weeks back. The problems I was encountering at work were having an extremely adverse effect on every aspect of my daily life. Relationships with my fiancé, friends, and family were growing increasingly tense, and my overall daily outlook was grim as a consequence of not being able to see any viable options to remedy the situation. Your willingness to write, speak over the phone, and meet with me was extremely generous. Furthermore, the way in which you treated my family and I was overwhelming. In a calm, compassionate, and sincere fashion, you were able to explain to us very clearly several meaningful options in which to resolve the conflict I had with my employer. On the drive home from meeting with both of you, I felt for the first time in a long time, a sense of relief and renewed the ability to enjoy the moment.
Santa Clara Whistleblower Attorney