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Retaliation Claims Under Florida’s Workers’ Compensation Law

The statutory proscription on retaliation based on exercise of rights afforded by Florida’s Workers’ Compensation Law (“§ 440.205”) is set forth in a single sentence:

“No employer shall discharge, threaten to discharge, intimidate, or coerce any employee by reason of such employee’s valid claim for compensation or attempt to claim compensation under the Workers’ Compensation Law.” FLA. STAT. § 440.205.

Courts have held that an employee may have a cause of action for retaliatory “intimidation or coercion” absent a discharge. Some examples of retaliatory employment actions’ included: (1) failing to comply with physician ordered work restrictions; (2) reducing scheduled work hours resulting in decreased income and loss of eligibility for employee insurance and other benefits; (3) refusing the employees’ request for transfer to another store located closer to employees’ residence despite the open positions at that store; (4) making changes to employees’ work schedule without prior notice in an effort to depict employee as an absentee’; and (5) berating employee in a humiliating manner for pretextual violations of company policy or practice.

WHISTLEBLOWER RECOVER UNDER THE FALSE CLAIMS ACT

For the fiscal years 2009 to 2016, the Civil Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has recovered $19.3 billion for the federal government in False Claims Act settlements and judgments relating to health care fraud and billions more during the same period for state Medicaid programs and in criminal fines and forfeitures. In 2016, the Department of Justice obtained more than $4.7 billion in settlements and judgments from civil cases involving fraud and false claims against the government. (https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-recovers-over-47-billion-false-claims-act-cases-fiscal-year-2016).

The False Claims Act allows whistleblowers to file an action on behalf of the federal government when they know that the government has been defrauded. The False Claims Act is the government’s primary civil remedy to redress false claims for government funds and property under government contracts, including national security and defense contracts, as well as under government programs as varied as Medicare, veterans’ benefits, federally insured loans and mortgages, transportation and research grants, agricultural supports, school lunches and disaster assistance.

Common Areas of Fraud

  • The healthcare industry (Medicare/Medicaid fraud & off-label marketing).
  • Department of Defense contractors (False certifications; improper billing; etc.)
  • For-profit and private universities are regularly investigated for federal student loan fraud.
  • Municipalities and counties commonly receive U.S. Department of Transportation funding and must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, along with numerous federal regulations and are prime areas for fraud.

For the False Claims Act to apply, there needs to be either a violation of a Federal statute, regulation, or agreement/contract with the federal government; or, outright misuse of federal monies, typically contrary to a statute, regulation, or agreement/contract with the government.

Westberry & Connors, LLC assists clients throughout the Florida Panhandle with Workers’ Compensation Retaliation and False Claims Act claims in addition to other employment related matters. We also serve clients in Alabama and Louisiana. Please call [850-473-0401] or contact us online to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.

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