Systematic Problems and Fraud at COVID Laboratories

Following Sacramento’s CBS13 blockbuster expose on failures at California’s new billion-dollar COVID testing lab and the company running the lab-PerkinElmer, the station has reported on a wild series of events, including systematic failures at the lab and potential destruction of evidence.

Inconclusive Tests and Reduced Capacity

Despite the fact that the state is paying PerkinElmer for processing 100,000 tests a day, the lab is currently processing fewer than 20,000 tests a day. Even worse, many of the tests being performed by the lab at coming back inconclusive. Only 22 other labs out of the more than 100 conducting testing for California have reported inconclusive results at all, and according to the state, the PerkinElmer lab reports inconclusive results more than 750% more than the other 22 labs combined.

Whistleblowers Come Forward

Following CBS’s initial reporting on the inconclusive results, they were approached by a number of whistleblowers who provided information that offers explanation about why the PerkinElmer lab has such poor results. The whistleblowers identified systemic problems inside the state lab and pointed to contamination, unlicensed and inadequately trained staff, and changing protocols as well as as the cause behind the poor results.

Swapped Samples and Misplaced Swabs

Whistleblowers reported that samples were contaminated or swapped and provided reports showing dozens of inaccurate results being sent out to patients before the lab was even aware of the mistake. Protocols surrounding testing were so lax that whistleblowers recounted several all-staff emails reporting that sample swabs were found in the employee bathrooms.

Inadequate Training and Supervision

Whistleblowers provided CBS with evidence that many of the technicians working at the lab or their supervisors lacked the credentials, training, or certifications required by law in a laboratory setting. For example, whistleblowers reported that some of the technicians were fresh out of college and had not passed competency assessments or completed training required by both state and federal law. Additionally, whistleblowers reported that unlicensed supervisors were overseeing unlicensed technicians—another violation of law.

Supervision was so lax that whistleblowers provided CBS with pictures and video of technicians sleeping at their desks or watching videos on their phones rather than processing samples.

Destruction of Evidence

Following its initial report, which aired on Super Bowl Sunday, whistleblowers contacted CBS to report that the company had called in employees to alter records about competency testing, mentioning the “CBS report.”

Can My Employer Retaliate Against Me for Blowing the Whistle?

No. The law recognizes that standing up to corporate misconduct takes bravery and is risky. In addition to any whistleblower reward you may receive, you would have a cause of action for retaliation or wrongful termination if your employer took action against you because you reported anything to the SEC.

How Much Do Whistleblowers Get Paid?

Many coronavirus testing laboratories have contracts with states or the federal government. Whistleblowers who come forward with evidence of misconduct at the laboratories may have evidence of fraud against the federal government or those states and can be eligible for between 10 and 30% of the money recovered because they came forward with information. 

Talk to an Experienced Whistleblower Rights Attorney

If you work at a COVID testing lab and you have information about illegal or fraudulent practices you should contact an experienced whistleblower attorney. We can help you navigate the process, gather the information that you need to prove your allegations, and maximize your reward.

Our consultations are 100% confidential and are always free. We are experienced at collecting information in a confidential manner, and know how to work with internal agencies and with the press (when appropriate) to share information without putting a target on your back. Your safety will always come first.

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