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Law Offices of Elizabeth “Booka” Smith, LLC Blog

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October 19, 2015: Texas Court Denies Fluor's Motion to Dismiss FCA Whistleblower Retaliation Lawsuit

On October 19, 2015, the U.S. District Court for the
Southern District of Texas denied government defense contractor Fluor
Intercontinental Inc.’s motion to dismiss a Section H False Claims Act (FCA) whistleblower
retaliation lawsuit filed by three former Fluor employees. The three
plaintiffs, who worked for Fluor in Afghanistan, allege that they were
wrongfully terminated after internally reporting a fraudulent scheme designed
to conceal and cover up lost or stolen government property in
order to avoid liability under a property services contract with the U.S. Army.
In the written court decision denying dismissal of the lawsuit, Judge Kenneth
Hoyt cited a 2011 Fifth Circuit decision (U.S.
ex. rel. Patton v. Shaw Servs., L.L.C.) for the proposition that an FCA
Section H retaliation plaintiff must show that: (1) he or she engaged in
“protected activity” under the FCA; (2) the employer knew the employee engaged
in protected activity; and (3) the employer took adverse action because of it. Judge
Hoyt concluded that the former Fluor employees sufficiently pleaded all three
elements in their legal complaint against Fluor. Specifically, Judge Hoyt ruled
that: (1) by internally reporting their concerns that Fluor was lying to the
government in order to escape liability on a government contract the plaintiffs
did engage in protected activity; (2) by threatening Fluor that they would
report any losses “as required by the Government,” the plaintiffs put Fluor on
notice that they were engaging in protected activity; and (3) the plaintiff’s
allegations that Fluor threatened to sue them for slander, subjected to them to
a hostile work environment, denied them the proper resources to do their jobs, denied
them promotions and instead demoted them, and ultimately terminated them, met
the final causation element of the three part Section H test. If these former
employees prevail in their Section H case, they will be entitled to
reinstatement to their jobs. They will also recover double back pay with
interest plus special damages including recovery of litigation costs and attorneys’
fees. The Law Offices of Elizabeth “Booka” Smith, LLC represents plaintiffs in
Section H FCA lawsuits. If you believe your employer may be violating the FCA
and are wondering how best to report your concerns and also secure your legal
rights, or if you have already reported your concerns and as a result are
experiencing retaliation in the workplace, CONTACT US to schedule an initial
consultation to evaluate potential representation.

 

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