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On January 19, 2021, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed a district court’s rejection at summary judgment of a disgruntled employee’s False Claims Act (FCA) retaliation claim in Hickman v. Spirit of Athens, No. 19-10945 (11th Cir. Jan. 19, 2021). The Court’s decision makes clear that, despite expansions to the FCA in 2009 and 2010 protecting employees who engage in “efforts to stop 1 or more violations” of the FCA, plaintiffs must nevertheless establish that they held an objectively reasonable belief that they were attempting to prevent the submission of false claims to the government for their conduct to constitute protected activity.

The plaintiffs worked for Spirit of Athens, a nonprofit organization. The executive director became concerned in reviewing tax returns that $61,000 of the organization’s expenses were generally categorized as “other expenses” without any further explanation. The executive director verbally retracted her signature on the tax forms, but the organization’s president signed and submitted them himself. The executive director and her assistant then arranged for the board members to receive a copy of the tax documents, shared their concerns with the president, and even hired an outside firm to audit the organization’s tax returns. Apparently unhappy with the executive director and her assistant’s conduct, the president fired them. The two then brought suit against the organization, claiming that they were terminated for “their attempts to combat the organization’s misuse of federal funds.” The district court granted summary judgment for the defendant, finding that plaintiffs had failed to establish that they had engaged in protected activity under the FCA.


Continue Reading Eleventh Circuit Holds that a Sincere Belief is not the Same as a Reasonable One Under the False Claims Act’s Retaliation Provision

On January 6, 2021, the DoD issued a class deviation, effective immediately, to implement the nationwide court order enjoining Sections 4 and 5 of Executive Order (EO) 13950, Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping, as well as guidance provided by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). EO 13950 prohibits federal agencies, contractors, and

The Trump administration continues to pursue enforcement of its Executive Order 13950 (the EO), while lawsuits filed by two civil rights groups’ work their way through federal courts. The EO bans federal contractors from utilizing training that “inculcates in its employees any form of race or sex stereotyping,” which is defined as “ascribing character traits,

The NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc. has filed suit on behalf of the National Urban League and the National Fair Housing Alliance in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia challenging the lawfulness and validity of Executive Order 13950, Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping, issued on September 22, 2020.

Two weeks after President Trump issued an “Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping,” which bans federal contractors from utilizing training that “inculcates in its employees any form of race or sex stereotyping,” the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs has issued its first guidance on the EO.

Notably, the guidance

On August 3, 2020, President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order framed as “Aligning Federal Contracting and Hiring Practices With the Interests of American Workers.” The Order declares the “policy of the executive branch to create opportunities for United States workers to compete for jobs, including jobs created through Federal contracts,” and directs

   Labor Update

In Alutiiq Commercial Enterprise, LLC (Jan. 9, 2020), the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals held that a contractor is entitled to an equitable adjustment under the Service Contract Act Price Adjustment Clause, FAR 52.222-43, for increased labor costs associated with a new Collective Bargaining Agreement executed after an

In this episode, hosts Jason Crawford and Mana Lombardo speak with Trina Fairley Barlow, a partner in the firm’s Labor and Employment and Government Contracts groups, and Christine Hawes, counsel in the Labor & Employment Group, to discuss the False Claims Act’s retaliation provision and considerations for investigating FCA allegations brought by whistleblowers. “Let’s Talk

Join us today for our webinar Building a Border Wall: Opportunities, Contractual Risks, and Business Considerations. The Trump administration published two contract solicitations for the design-build of a “border wall” between the U.S. and Mexico. The RFPs (linked here and here) contemplate a multiple-award, multiple-phase approach for acquiring prototypes and, eventually, full construction.  

Beginning in June 2016, GSA will remove current wage determinations from existing MAS Schedules and require ordering agencies to incorporate determinations at the task order level to ensure that the “most recent” wage determinations are incorporated when an individual task order is placed.  The recently announced change is part of GSA’s plan to “update” the