Whistleblower Action – Environmental Violations
Under federal, state and local False Claims Act laws, a private citizen whistleblower is empowered to file a lawsuit to stop a business or an individual from endangering or defrauding the public in certain conditions. If this “Qui Tam” lawsuit results a defendant paying a penalty or fine, the whistleblower (referred to as the “relator” of the claim) is entitled to a portion of the money the government collects. These laws also protect whistleblowers from retaliation on the job or wrongful termination if the individual reports fraudulent or illegal activity where they work.
This Civil War-era law has become enshrined as common practice all over the country to help protect the public and our government from fraud and abuse by encouraging individuals to come forward when the see wrongdoing and by protecting these whistleblowers when they do.
Environmental Qui Tam Lawsuits
Because the government doesn’t have enough regulators and investigators to protect the public everywhere from companies that would pollute, or falsify reports on safety hazards, or cut-corners on contracted clean-up and waste disposal, our system relies at times on brave whistleblowers to stand up and speak out.
Often the way to affect change, the best way to get a company to stop engaging in illegal or dangerous wrongdoing is to file a lawsuit. The government enforces many laws and regulations with the threat of civil and criminal fines. False Claims Act and related laws deputize private citizens to take action, to be protected and in many circumstances be rewarded for doing so.
The legislators behind these laws understood that at times the government needs help making sure the rules are followed, and that those brave enough to collect evidence and come forward deserve protection, incentive and reward.
- Do you have evidence of unsafe environmental practices?
- Hazardous material improperly handled in way that may endanger workers or the public?
- Illegal dumping?
- Dangerous practices storing, transporting and disposing of toxic substances?
- Do you have proof that a company contracted to clean up a site or dispose of hazardous material is violating federal, state or local rules and statutes?
If you suspect this kind of illegal environmental activity or have evidence of fraud against the public by a government contractor and wish to pursue a claim, please contact us immediately.
Environmental Whistleblower Rewards
There are several federal, state and municipal laws that include incentive rewards for individuals who file suit and provide evidence for environmental misconduct. Some qui tam provisions allow for 15-30% of the government penalty to be awarded to the whistleblower.
Other laws outline an even greater incentive, such as the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, which allows for the Coast Guard or EPA reward the whistleblower with up to half of the government penalty.
Act Quickly – “First to File”
Whistleblowers should act safely, but act quickly. In general, the government uses a “first to file” rule which means that the first person file suit against an entity will usually be the only plaintiff entitled to a share of the government’s award.
Whistleblower/Employee Protection and Statute of Limitations
In addition to potential awards under “Qui Tam” provisions, environmental whistleblowers are also protected by seven major laws with added job protections for employees who expose alleged violations by their corporate employers:
- Clean Air Act
- Toxic Substances Act
- Clean Water Act
- Atomic Energy Act
- Solid Waste Act
- Safe Drinking Water Act
- Superfund Act (CERCLA)
To seek redress for retaliation on the job or wrongful termination if an employee reports violations to the EPA or other law enforcement agency, they MUST file a written claim with the Department of Labor within 30 days. We can help.
Take action — Contact Us.
The attorneys of Hughes Ellzey can help you take a stand and protect yourself. We have experience handling False Claims Act actions worth millions of dollars in environmental claims, defense department claims, healthcare industry and consumer protection claims.
If your job has been threatened or terminated, if you have suffered coercion or harassment because you reported environmental violations or unsafe practices, contact Hughes Ellzey today.
If you need help and want a free legal consultation, please contact a whistleblower attorney at Hughes Ellzey, LLP by calling toll-free 888-350-3931, or send us your contact information using our contact form. An attorney will call you as soon as possible after receiving your contact information.