Articles Posted in Employment Issues

Walter Klepacz went to sleep last week with a clean conscience and roughly $1.466 million richer.

A few years ago, Klepacz was working as Quality Assurance Manager for Crane, Co., a manufacturer of various machine fittings and parts, when he began asking questions about some shady business practices for obtaining government contracts, honest questions that led him to be fired.

Klepacz knew there were specific regulations regarding government contracts, laws regulating who gets the project and the quality of materials sold to the military and where they were produced, and he knew his employer was bending and sometimes breaking these laws. He knew Crane, Co. knew it was selling substandard valves to the U.S. Navy and other parts that would be used in combat. They also were manufacturing a portion of these substandard parts with materials from outside of the United States in violation of the Berry Amendment and Buy America Act. What Klepacz didn’t know until he met with a workplace lawyer was that not only was his firing illegal but he could also file a lawsuit on behalf of the U.S. to recover the moneys Crane, Co. had made by defrauding the government.

It’s not been publicized, but it’s earned honest citizens around the country tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars for blowing the whistle and protecting fellow Americans. It’s kept on the q.t., but the Department of Justice relies on it for the protection for our tax dollars. It’s the fear of every corrupt corporation. It’s called “qui tam” from a Latin phrase meaning “to sue for the king as well as for oneself,” and it’s time word got out.

As of the last fiscal year, the U.S. has recovered over $6 billion as a result of the False Claims Act lawsuits, of which over $960 million has been paid to qui tam whistleblowers. Under the False Claims Act, a corporation guilty of defrauding the government can be sued for three times the government’s damages plus $5,500 to $11,000 per instance of fraud. The qui tam whistleblower, who has firsthand knowledge of the corporate abuse and files with an attorney, is entitled to 15% to 30% of these awards.

The number of qui tam cases is increasing.

Here are some common questions I receive from an employee being harassed at the work place are: How do I stop it? What do I do? Should I quit? Should I just stay quiet?

The answers to these questions vary with each situation. There are a few things we must consider. For the purposes of this blog, however, I well tell you where we always start. Is the behavior actually sexual harassment? There are some cases that are obvious but often the behavior can be more in a grey area.

To give you some guidance, as to what is sexual harassment, the EEOC defines sexual harassment as:

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