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Blowing the whistle on fraud is the right thing to do for any number of reasons. It can help protect those who rely on government services, often our friends and neighbors in Illinois. It can preserve funds earmarked for disabled veterans, lower-income families, students, older adults, and other vulnerable groups. It can help ensure that government money is spent in ways that benefit the citizenry, and that the Illinois taxpayers who fund government projects get what they paid for.

Blowing the whistle through the proper channels can also help ensure that the person who has come forward is protected and rewarded for their honesty. Illinois whistleblowers can receive a percentage of the overall amount of money recovered from a successful qui tam case. They are also entitled to several state and federal protections under Illinois whistleblower laws. Ask the attorneys of Tycko & Zavareei LLP about how these laws may apply to you in your situation.

Fighting Fraud in Illinois

Illinois Qui Tam Law

Qui tam law allows for average people to sue on behalf of the government when they have information about misappropriated government funds. If the case is successful, an Illinois whistleblower, or qui tam relator, can be awarded with up to 30 percent of the recovered funds. A licensed qui tam lawyer can help guide you through the disclosure process and explain your rights and privileges as a whistleblower. If you have questions about the specifics of your potential case, or what kinds of evidence are permissible under Illinois law, contact the experts at Tycko & Zavareei LLP.

Illinois, the Federal False Claims Act, and a Rich History of Whistleblower Rights

The state that President Lincoln called home for over 25 years may in some ways be considered instrumental in originating and protecting whistleblower rights in America. The Federal False Claims Act, also known as the Lincoln Law, was passed by the then-president during the American Civil War. This powerful pro-whistleblower law was aimed at combatting rampant defense contractor fraud in the United States. Early defense contractors who sold gunpowder cut with sawdust and other faulty munitions to the Union Army were held accountable through this new federal statute.

Over the years, the False Claims Act has been amended and strengthened by subsequent presidents and Congresses. Currently, fraud against the federal government is reportable by anyone who has information which may lead to a recovery, whether or not they are a citizen or resident of the United States. Whistleblowers are eligible to receive up to 30 percent of the total recovered funds from a successful qui tam action, thanks to the original Lincoln Law. Today the act also allows for numerous individual financial penalties to be levied against fraudsters, the rates for which are linked to inflation.

The Lincoln Law has expanded vastly in terms of what kinds of fraud are considered reportable since its initial passage in 1863. Today, not only defense contractor fraud, but also health care fraud, misrepresentation in government contracts, misuses of government funds, attempts to bribe foreign officials, false reporting on government grant or education funds, and more are all considered violation of the False Claims Act.

The Illinois False Claims Act

Illinois has passed its own False Claims Act, which is similarly broad to the federal statute. The Illinois False Claims Act can be applied not just to instances of health care fraud, but to all kinds of fraud against the State.

Importantly, the Illinois False Claims Act extends its definition of the “state” into smaller political subdivisions. State government funding that has been misappropriated is reportable under the Illinois False Claims Act, and so is fraud that takes place in Illinois state schools, colleges, and universities, in counties and municipalities, as well as in local government. This vast definition of the “state” under the Illinois False Claims Act allows for more kinds of fraud involving Illinois funds to be reportable and collectable under the statute.

The civil penalty for the Illinois False Claims Act is linked to its federal equivalent, which is in itself tied to national inflation rates. The Illinois False Claims Act currently holds violators accountable for not less than $5,500 and not more than $11,000 per false claim, plus three times the amount of damages which are sustained by the State of Illinois due to the perpetrator’s actions.

In cases where the State of Illinois intervenes in a claim, the whistleblower may be rewarded anywhere from 15 to 25 percent of the proceeds from a successful qui tam case. In cases where the State declines to intervene and the relator continues with the case to a successful conclusion, they may be awarded up to the full 30 percent of the overall recovery. This amount, however, can be reduced if the whistleblower has culpability in the fraud, such as if they planned or helped perpetrate the scam.

The Illinois Whistleblower Reward and Protection Act

The Illinois Whistleblower Reward and Protection Act protects Illinois whistleblowers who report fraud, waste, corruption, graft and abuse involving taxpayer funds. This Act allows for whistleblowers to monitor their government representatives, such as state employees, politicians, and government contractors. The law protects employees against their employers should they make a protected disclosure, such as speaking to a court, administrative hearing officer, government or law enforcement official, or before a legislative commission or committee about possible violations of Illinois or federal law. Whistleblowers are also protected should they refuse to participate in actions that they believe would be in violation of Illinois or federal law.

Can My Employer Discriminate against Me as a Whistleblower in Illinois?

In cases covered by the Illinois Whistleblower Reward and Protection Act and/or the Illinois False Claims Act, discrimination against whistleblowers who have made a protected disclosure is expressly prohibited.

Whistleblowers who have been harassed, threatened, discriminated against, fired or suspended by their employers may be able to sue for any and all of the following:

  • Reinstatement at the same level of seniority
  • Back pay, with interest
  • Compensation for damages
  • Litigation costs, expert witness fees, and reasonable attorneys’ fees resulting from the legal action

More Questions? Speak to a Qualified Illinois Qui Tam Attorney

Reporting fraud is the right thing to do. If you have questions or believe that you may be able to become an Illinois whistleblower, don’t wait. Speak to the experts with Tycko & Zavareei LLP about your rights under Illinois whistleblower laws. A consultation is complimentary and confidential.

How can we help you?

Confidential Case Evaluation

Our experienced qui tam attorneys are available for a confidential, no-cost, no-commitment, initial evaluation of your case. Call us now at (202) 973-0900, or begin the process by completing our Confidential Case Evaluation Form.
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