Sunday, January 09, 2011

Why stick the taxpayers with these claims?

Turning a good idea on its head, Delegate Janis has proposed a bill to amend the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act, Va. Code 8.01-216.1 et seq., to overrule the holding from the Supreme Court's decision in Ligon v. Goochland and waive the sovereign immunity of the Commonwealth and its counties and cities under the Act.

In Ligon, the Supreme Court held that the Act does not waive the immunity of Virginia's counties for wrongful discharge claims based on retaliation against whistleblowers.

In H.B. 1399, Delegate Janis proposes to insert language that would eliminate the sovereign immunity defense. The proposed waiver of sovereign immunity is entirely at odds with the policy of the Act. The taxpayers should be not be victimized a second time, suffering first whatever fraud the whistleblower spotted, and then having to pay in addition for the whistleblower's lawsuit.

Unlike private sector employees, government employees are already protected to some degree by the First Amendment, made applicable to the states by way of the Fourteenth Amendment, which prohibits state actors from retaliating against employees for speech on matters of public concern, which might include the much of the same subject matter as what is addressed by whistleblower protections of the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act.

1 comment:

Zachary Kitts said...

Amen to that Steve. Thanks for this great post. Contrary to the testimony of the one guy in support of this bill, there is absolutely no evidence in the legislative history that Congress meant the analogous anti-retaliation provision of the Federal False Claims Act to protect federal employees. This bill has now moved to the Senate, where I strongly encourage those opposed to submit written testimony as far in advance as possible.