Different types of fraud have different procedures for reporting. That’s why it is crucial to work with a law firm that understands qui tam law and how it may affect whistleblowers in Maryland.
Fighting Fraud in Maryland
To become a whistleblower in Maryland, there are multiple state laws that protect and incentivize your disclosure. Unlike in some other states, Maryland offers distinct tracks for reporting different kinds of fraud, as well as extended protections for whistleblowers.
If you have information about fraud involving state funds in Maryland, you may be eligible for a financial reward. A Maryland qui tam lawyer can help you understand how to file for your award, as well as what kinds of protections are available in case your employer attempts to discriminate against you for your disclosure. You can also report your information anonymously through a Maryland whistleblower lawyer.
The Maryland False Claims Act
All Maryland residents are already protected under the federal False Claims Act, but the state of Maryland also offers its own state law version of the larger statute. The Maryland False Claims Act of 2015 prohibits any person from submitting false claims to the state government of Maryland, or to any county. This state statute is a qui tam law, meaning that private citizens can bring a case as relators, or whistleblowers, on behalf of the government that has been defrauded. These cases serve the public interest by helping recover stolen taxpayer funds, bringing corrupt actors to light, and rewarding honesty. Examples of reportable fraud under the Maryland False Claims Act of 2015 include government contract fraud, submitting false invoices, conspiring to keep public property, and concealing obligations to pay the state of Maryland.
According to the Maryland False Claims Act, the government may be able to recover up to treble damages sustained by the state, as well as up to $10,000 per violation. This means that in instances of larger or ongoing fraud, large recovery settlements may be on the table. Whistleblowers can receive between 15 to 25% of the amount recovered from a successful case under the Maryland False Claims Act.
Limitations to the Maryland False Claims Act
The Maryland False Claims Act is not retroactive, meaning it cannot be used to address previous wrongdoing prior to its passage in 2015. Additionally, unlike in other states and federally, there is no possible path forward to continuing the case if the state declines to intervene. If the state decides not to pursue the Maryland qui tam case, whistleblowers cannot bring the action on their own to recover funds. For this reason, the recovery for whistleblowers in Maryland is capped at 25% of the overall settlement, unlike in federal cases, when a whistleblower may be able to receive 30% of the total recovery if they pursue the case on their own after the government declines to intervene.
Importantly, Maryland citizens can still file claims under the federal False Claims Act if they have information about misappropriation of federal funds and federal taxpayer scams. Filing under the Maryland state version of the law is an additional option on the table now to recover stolen state funding.
The Maryland False Health Claims Act
Prior to the 2015 passage of the Maryland False Claims Act, fraud against the state government was largely reportable under the Maryland False Health Claims Act. This law covers Medicaid fraud in the state of Maryland and other kinds of health care fraud. Reportable fraud under the Maryland False Health Claims Act include, but is not limited to:
- Unbundling claims to receive a larger payout
- Billing for non-necessary medical procedures
- Pharmaceutical fraud
The Maryland False Health Claims Act offers similar limitations as the Maryland False Claims Act. Notably, there is no option to pursue further action in the case if the state declines to intervene. Whistleblowers can recover anywhere from 15 to 25% of the total recovery.
Maryland Whistleblower Reward Program
Maryland offers an opportunity to report on tax evasion that is modeled after the federal IRS Whistleblower Program. The Maryland Whistleblower Reward Program encourages individuals to report underpayment of state taxes. The underpayment in question must value at least $250,000 from an individual who has at least $250,000 in annual taxable income, or from a business with an annual taxable income of at least $2 million.
Maryland whistleblowers may be eligible to receive up to 30% of the settlement from an alleged underpayment under the state’s Whistleblower Reward Program. The settlement amount may be inclusive of applicable fines, fees, penalties, and interest collected.
Protections Against Retaliation for Maryland Whistleblowers
Blowing the whistle on fraud is the right thing to do. It helps protect taxpayer funds, remove bad actors from the pool of government contractors, and ensure that those who rely on government services receive the care that they deserve. Unfortunately, many people hesitate to come forward to blow the whistle on fraud due to concerns over being fired or harassed. In Maryland, there are several state statutes that protect whistleblowers against retaliation.
Maryland whistleblowers who report fraud on the federal level are protected against retaliation by their employers by the federal False Claims Act. Under this law, it is illegal to fire, harass, lower the pay or hours of, demote, or otherwise discriminate against a whistleblower due to their protected disclosure. Doing so is actionable in the court of law. A whistleblower who has been retaliated against after they have reported fraud can sue for reinstatement, up to double back pay, as well as possible front pay, legal fees, and more.
The Maryland False Claims Act and False Health Claims Act also offer similar protections, as does the Whistleblower Reward Program. Some recourses available to whistleblowers are:
- Reinstatement at the same seniority level
- Double back pay, plus interest
- Reinstatement of benefits
- Payment of punitive damages
- Legal fees such as litigation costs
- Reasonable attorneys’ fees
Other whistleblower protections in Maryland are specific to the field of employment. Examples include:
- Maryland State Contractor Employees Whistleblower Protection
- Executive Employees Whistleblower Protection Act
- Public School Employee Whistleblower Act
- Health Care Worker Whistleblower Protection Act
If you work in any of the above fields in Maryland and blow the whistle on waste of funds, violation of Maryland or federal law or rule, specific danger to public health and safety, gross mismanagement, and more, you may be covered under further whistleblower protections that allow you the ability to sue for recourse.
It is important to note that whistleblowers are only protected once they have made their disclosure. For this reason among others, contacting a Maryland whistleblower attorney is of paramount importance. If you wait to blow the whistle and your employer fires you, it may be more difficult to prove you were retaliated against because of your suspicions of fraud.
Speak to a Maryland Whistleblower Lawyer Today
If you have proof of fraud involving government funds in Maryland, whether at the state, local, or federal level, report it. You may be able to receive a financial reward as well as qualify for legal protection. Contact our office today for a free legal consultation.