District of Columbia Councilmember Mary Cheh introduced the “False Claims Act of 2013,” which will amend the D.C. False Claims Act to permit whistleblowers to bring tax-related fraud claims. If enacted into law, the bill would permit whistleblowers to seek a qui tam or relator’s share when the amount of uncollected tax is worth $350,000 or more, and brought against taxpayers who have an income above $1 million.
Continue Reading D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh introduces whistleblower bill to curb tax evasion

In a long-awaited ground-breaking decision, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals today held that an employer engages in unlawful retaliation when it adds a new demand for a release as a condition for concluding a consulting agreement. The case is Propp v. Counterpart International and LeLaulu, No. 07-CV-988 (D.C. Mar. 8, 2012).

Counterpart International is a nonprofit development organization. Brian Propp worked for Counterpart from 1995 to 2004. In 2001, Propp was promoted to General Director of Counterpart’s Humanitarian Assistance Program (CHAP). His duties included fundraising.  He also led the Counterpart Communities initiative which became known as his "brainchild." Lelei LeLaulu became Counterpart’s President and CEO in 2002.

In 2004, LeLaulu proposed to the Board that Propp be terminated due to a budget deficit in Propp’s program in Muldova and CHAP’s overall budget reduction.  The Board approved of the termination. Propp was the only person laid off. Before anyone told Propp about his termination, Congress voted to give Counterpart $12 million. In a later meeting with Propp to tell him about his termination, LeLaulu offered him an opportunity to receive three months’ severance pay in exchange for a release of all claims.  Propp refused. Nevertheless, the parties agreed to have Propp continue working for Counterpart as a contractor. LeLaulu sent an email to all staff saying that Propp would now be working on Counterpart Communities and other initiatives, but not on CHAP. A week later, Propp’s attorney sent Counterpart a letter asserting that Propp was opposing practices he believed were discriminatory. Counterpart and LeLaulu then became non-responsive to efforts to conclude the negotiations for a new contract. Instead, they insisted that Propp sign a release, and even gave him a 48-hour deadline to do so. Counterpart also abandoned the $12 million earmark from Congress. On October 7, 2005, Propp filed his lawsuit alleging discrimination and retaliation.

During discovery Counterpart admitted that “Defendants never engaged or otherwise permitted [Propp] to concentrate on Counterpart Communities and other strategic opportunities for the organization because [Propp] refused to sign a separation agreement and release.” The DC Superior Court still dismissed the lawsuit on summary judgment. Propp appealed only the decision that dismissed his retaliation claim. He argued that Counterpart and LeLaulu added the requirement for a release only after Propp opposed unlawful discrimination. Today, the DC Court of Appeals agreed that adding the requirement for a release was retaliatory and unlawful.Continue Reading DC high court says there is no “safe harbor” for retaliation

Officers Donald Smalls, William James, Frazier Caudle, Nikeith Goins and Sholanda Miller worked for the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) here in the District of Columbia. They worked for Lt. Ronald Wilkins of the First Division vice squad. In Feburary 2006, these five African-American officers filed anonymous charges of race discrimination against Lt. Wilkins.  Four days

On Monday, the District of Columbia Council approved the Whistleblower Protection Amendment Act of 2009, which strengthens the DC Whistleblower Protection Act (DC Code § 1-615.51 et seq.) and The Employees of District Contractors and Instrumentality Whistleblower Protection Act of 1998 (DC Code § 2-223.01 et seq.). I thank my friends O. Scott Oswald and Jason Zuckerman of The Employment Law Group for their work assisting the DC Council with this Act, and for letting us all know about it. Follow the link below for their summary of the improvements.Continue Reading DC Council improves whistleblower protection law

Mr. Colin Browne worked as a program advisor for the UDC Career Counseling and Development Center. Throughout his term, he discovered many flaws within the system. For example, Kevin Naiker, the former Director of UDC’s “Team 100” retention program, and others were purposely spinning the retention numbers. UDC’s “Team 100” retention program is a federally funded program for at-risk students. Mr. Browne also discovered that Kevin Naiker, who was supervising him for his licensure, did not have a doctoral degree, nor was he licensed. As these discoveries came to light, Mr. Browne’s nightmare began, yet he faced adversity with courage and righteousness.Continue Reading Jury awards Colin Browne $282,000