By Nicole Vukonich
“Qui tam” is a Latin phrase meaning, “[he] who sues in this matter for the king as well as for himself.” Boiling it down, qui tam most commonly refers to a whistleblower lawsuit relating to fraud, normally Medicaid fraud under the Medicaid Fraud False Claims Act. The Washington State House of Representatives considered Substitute House Bill 1965, which would have created the Worker Protection Act, allowing any person, corporation, association or other legal entity or local government in the state to bring a qui tam lawsuit or action in court for the enforcement of employment laws under the Department of Labor & Industries.
The Washington Hospitality Association was and will continue to be interested in this bill because if passed, it would allow whistleblowers to hire private attorneys to sue on behalf of the state to enforce labor laws. There are already processes in place to address any issues with existing labor laws and is the job of the state attorney general. During the 2019 legislative session, the bill advanced out of the House policy committee but did not make it beyond the House Rules Committee. The Washington Hospitality Association opposed this bill and will continue working with a broad coalition of the business community to find solutions on this complex issue.