Georgia Legislature Enacts Law Providing Greater Protection for Whistleblowers
Georgia lawmakers recently enacted the Georgia Taxpayer Protection False Claims Act (“Georgia FCA”). The Georgia FCA seeks to prevent fraud against the state government by (a) empowering citizens to file lawsuits against perpetrators of fraud on the government’s behalf; and (b) protecting employee whistleblowers from retaliation by their employers.
The Georgia FCA permits citizens to file lawsuits against those who knowingly:
• Present the government with fraudulent claims;
• Conspire with others to make fraudulent claims;
• Deliver less product than is due, or subpar product, under a government contract;
• Permit subcontractors to perpetrate fraud on the government;
• Purchase government property from a government official who lacks authority to sell;
• Avoid paying money owed to the government.
A citizen who brings a successful lawsuit may be awarded between 15 and 30 percent of any proceeds recovered on the government’s behalf (depending on whether or not the government intervenes in the case).
The Georgia FCA also protects employees who “blow the whistle” on fraudulent conduct by their employers. The law includes an anti-relation provision that prohibits employers from terminating employees for exercising their rights under the Georgia FCA.