The False Claims Act exists to incentivize whistleblowing in areas such as Medicare fraud. Qui tam whistleblowers (known as “relators”) who bring the government’s attention to fraudulent practices of their employers or other institutions, are rewarded with a percentage of the recovery ranging from 15-30%. Proving the extent of a fraudulent practice can prove difficult, especially when employers go to great lengths to hide those practices.
Yesterday, in a win for whistleblowers and the U.S. government, a federal judge in Tennessee declared that government can extrapolate from a small sample of billing statements to show a significant amount of Medicare fraud.
The decision was especially important because there is relatively little case law on the question of whether extrapolation is an appropriate practice pursuant to the False Claims Act. The judge ruled that, “[t]he purpose of the FCA, as well as the development and expansion of government programs as to which it may be employed, support the use of statistical sampling in complex FCA actions where a claim-by-claim review is impracticable,” and added, “[i]f Congress intended to preclude statistical sampling from being used in this context, it has had ample opportunity to have that intention reflected in the language of the FCA.” [click to continue…]
Employment disputes can be tumultuous, often leading to a “your word against mine” situation. However, when one of those parties is a large corporation and the other is just a single employee, the employee can be at a slight disadvantage in terms of the weight given to on their recollection of events by the judge and/or jury. Because of this, the use of an investigator can offer a critical advantage in an employment law case.
You can be assured that the employer is doing their due diligence and attempting to uncover everything that they can about the employee and his or her time with the company. It is in the employee’s and their attorneys’ best interests to do the same. [click to continue…]
In employment lawsuits, preserving, finding, and utilizing electronic evidence can mean the difference between winning, winning big, or losing on summary judgment. Electronic discovery (“e-discovery”) is an important source of critical evidence that can help you establish proof of discrimination, retaliation, and pretext. Because such evidence can be digitally buried in complex servers and information systems, it is important that your employment law attorney be as sophisticated as possible during the discovery phase of your employment lawsuit.
Does your attorney know all the places your employer stores email and other potentially relevant data? Does your employer’s attorney? At the onset of litigation, the answer to the first question is a definitive no. And it may surprise you that the answer to the second question is often the same. [click to continue…]
The rights, privileges, and responsibilities afforded to married individuals in the United States are vast and varied. As a matter of clear public policy, federal, state, and local governments grant married individuals everything from tax breaks to survivorship rights. Gay and lesbian couples across the country have sought to be included in these benefits and obligations. They have seen success in recent years in various state courts and legislatures, including being granted inclusion in marriage in a few, civil unions in some, and domestic partnerships in others. Despite such gains for these couples, 31 states have recently amended their constitutions to specifically deny such recognition. In these states, gay and lesbians are left with no other option than to attempt to contract around their inability to obtain governmental recognition of their unions; Minnesota is currently considering whether to pass a similar amendment.
Project 515, based here in Minnesota, has discovered that “most of the rights provided to married couples cannot be replicated by signing legal documents or contracts.” [click to continue…]
As published in the Harvard Law & Policy Review, Kevin M. Clermont & Stewart J. Schwab observed that from 1979-2006, plaintiffs bringing employment law matters (discrimination, wrongful termination, etc) in federal court won only 15% of the time. When paired with the observation that plaintiffs in non job-related matters won 51% of the time, that 15% figure is stunning. Questions as to why there is such an imbalance in employment law compared to other areas of law have been the focus of many journalists, lawyers and academics. But for attorneys who represent plaintiffs in employment discrimination cases, there is one key factor worth focusing on: properly preparing a case to survive motions for dismissal, particularly summary judgement motions.
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Sanders v. Lee County School District, No. 10-3240 (8th Cir. 2012). An Arkansas jury found in favor of plaintiff Sharon Sanders on her Title VII claims of race discrimination and constructive discharge. The jury awarded $10,000 in compensatory damages for race discrimination, $60,825 in back and front pay damages for her constructive discharge, and $8,000 in punitive damages. After the verdict, the district court judge granted the School District’s motion under Rule 50 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to set aside the jury’s verdicts on constructive discharge and punitive damages. Sanders appealed the district court’s vacation of the jury’s verdicts to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals – the Eighth Circuit reversed the district court’s ruling and reinstated the jury’s findings.
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“Sam” worked as a salesman for several years at the same company. On occasion, he heard his supervisor and colleagues use anti-Semitic slurs in the workplace. Sam sent a very polite email stating that he had family members who died in the Holocaust and would like it if the comments stopped. All of a sudden, Sam’s employer began targeting him at work. He was disciplined six times within the next eight weeks, even though he had not been disciplined a single time over six years of employment before his complaint. Ultimately, Sam’s employer fired him.
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