Though the United States government has a set of laws that protect and reward whistleblowers, each state has their own set of unique statutes under which a claim must be filed. A Texas whistleblower must be wary of these laws, as they affect several aspects of any case they choose to file. Among these, the Texas Whistleblower Act, the Texas Medicaid Fraud Prevention Act, and the statutes of limitations are most important to familiarize oneself with.
Texas Whistleblower Act
One of the most powerful statutes in place for whistleblowers is the Texas Whistleblower Act, which prohibits any retaliation on a public employee who reports any illegal conduct committed by their city or jurisdiction. Examples of such retaliation include termination, suspension, or any alternate adverse action that may jeopardize their employment. As stated in the Act, any public employee who is subjected to these actions is entitled to sue for injunctive relief, actual damages, court costs, and reasonable attorney fees. Furthermore, they may be eligible for reinstatement of their position (if termination was involved), back-pay of wages for the period of suspension or termination, or restoration of benefits that would otherwise have been lost due to retaliation actions. It is important to note that these laws only apply to employees who report fraud against their public employer and/or coworkers, and does not protect those who file suit against another member of the community.
Texas Medicaid Fraud Prevention Act
The Texas Medicaid Fraud Prevention Act, or TMFPA, is a variant of the federal False Claims Act – but there are notable differences that can protect a Texas whistleblower further than the federal law allows.
- Although the TMFPA only applies to fraud against the state’s Medicaid program, it does not impose any statute of limitations on qui tam actions.
- As argued by the Attorney General of Texas, the TMFPA is “at least as effective in rewarding and facilitating qui tams as the False Claims Act.” Additionally, he reports that anti-retaliation measures are “the same or broader than that provided by the FCA.”
- The Texas Medicaid Fraud Prevention Act allows for qui tam complaints to remain sealed for 180 days, compared to the 60-day seal permitted under the False Claims Act.
- The whistleblower rewards differ slightly from the federal act, as the TMFPA provides for additional penalties of up to $15,000 for any illicit action that results in the injury of an elderly, disabled, or minor person(s).
Statute(s) of Limitations
Because Texas has a variety of whistleblower laws, it is important to be understanding of which your claim falls under to ensure you do not exceed the statute of limitations. For example:
- A claim filed under the federal False Claims Act allows a whistleblower to file a claim six years after the violation has occurred, or three years after discovery (provided the violation did not occur more than ten years before action).
- As mentioned above, the Texas Medicaid Fraud Prevention Act does not have a statute of limitations. A whistleblower may come forward with information about any fraud against the state Medicaid program, regardless of how much time has passed since the violation.
- The Texas Whistleblower Act has the shortest statute of limitations, with only 90 days permitted between violation(s) and filing suit.
These stipulations to each law make it imperative that your whistleblower claim is filed under the most appropriate act. Thus, having a competent whistleblower lawyer who is knowledgeable about the limitations of each is absolutely crucial to building a strong and viable case.
Whistleblower Justice Network Can Help You
Whistleblower Justice Network partners with whistleblowers worldwide to expose a variety of schemes against federal and local governments alike. Through our partnerships with world-class legal firms, we are able to take the guesswork out of finding the best whistleblower lawyer for your case and assure that you are in good hands every step of the way.
If you have meaningful information regarding any violation in Texas, Whistleblower Justice Network can help. Working alongside first-rate legal counsel, we will ensure you are protected to the fullest extent of the law and that you receive credit for the information you bring to the U.S. government. Partnering with whistleblowers is all we do. Visit us at www.whistleblowerjustice.net, or call us at 844-WJN-4ALL, to learn if we can help you.