Government funds build communities at the state and local levels. Private businesses also participate in growth, both with government contracts and independently.

Sometimes, construction projects can disguise fraud. When you know about fraud in a development project, a Charleston construction contract fraud whistleblower lawyer could help you report the wrongdoing and protect you from retaliation. Contact a whistleblower attorney to learn more about your legal options.

Shining a Light on Fraud in Construction

Both public and private constructions projects hold the potential for fraud and abuse. General contractors and subcontractors can deliver a shoddy final product or use insufficient materials, and government employees can embezzle funds under the guise of complex development projects.

Publicly Funded Construction Fraud

The use of public funds enables employees of construction companies and contractors to report fraud. Under South Carolina Code § 8-27-10, Public employees can report misuse of public funds or intentional violation of state or federal law as employees of public bodies, which include organizations receiving public funds. However, a violation merely technical or of a minimum nature does not count as wrongdoing.

An employee can and should file a report or complaint with the relevant authority, which could include the state agency responsible for the public funds or a state law enforcement agency. For example, a report about the misuse of public funds in a construction project could go to the South Carolina State Inspector General’s Office through their complaint website, depending on the wrongdoing and the alleged state employee or agency responsible for the fraud.

Private Construction Projects

Reporting fraud in the private sector can involve a different process, based in reporting to the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (LLR). The LLR handles complaints of misconduct and fraud by private employers and may investigate such a complaint in the construction context, especially when the alleged fraud involves the health and safety of employees.

Whether the LLR or another state agency should receive a private complaint can vary depending on the alleged violation, so having a whistleblower attorney familiar with construction contract fraud in Charleston could help with any report. An attorney could ensure the report goes to the proper agency and a reporting employee can follow up with additional information.

Protecting Yourself After Making a Report

An employer cannot retaliate against a whistleblowing employee. In both the public and private contexts, protections exist for whistleblowers trying to uncover fraud and abuse. Those protections depend on the context, however, and a whistleblower lawyer in Charleston can work with an employee facing retaliation for reporting construction contract fraud to provide the best protection.

Public bodies—including organizations receiving public funds—cannot retaliate against an employee reporting in good faith, as decreed by South Carolina Code § 8-27-20. For example, an employee is safe from termination, suspension, pay cuts, and demotion as retaliation, and if the report results in a savings of public funds, the employee can receive a reward equal to 25 percent of the amount (but not more than $2,000).

If a report was made in bad faith or amounted to only a technical or minimal error, an employee can receive discipline from the employing body, including termination. When an employee thinks they have suffered illegal retaliation, and they have exhausted all other remedies with their employer, they can file a lawsuit against the employing body for reinstatement, lost wages, damages up to $15,000, and up to $10,000 in attorney’s fees.

For private employees, similar protections exist under Code § 41-15-510, but without the same remedies. A private employee facing retaliation can file a complaint with the LLR. The LLR can investigate and possibly bring an action against the employer under Code § 41-15-520. The employee does not get their own right of action to sue. The LLR’s lawsuit can get the employee rehired or reinstated with back pay, but the additional remedies and reward do not apply.

Discuss Your Whistleblower Case with a Construction Contract Fraud Attorney

Your specific circumstances will determine how you should report construction fraud, especially whether public funds are involved in the project and alleged fraud. A Charleston construction contract fraud whistleblower lawyer can guide you in making a proper report to expose the fraud.

An attorney can also protect you from retaliation by your employer if you do make a report, as they cannot fire you for exposing wrongdoing. Speak with a lawyer as soon as possible when making a report of fraud or facing off with a retaliating employer.

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