Speaking out about wrongdoing in your workplace can be intimidating. You may fear that reporting illegal activity committed by your employer or others at work could place you at risk for losing your job, which is a valid concern. In this situation, you will benefit from knowing your rights and how you can protect your interests. As a whistleblower, the law provides you with certain legal protections against retaliation of any kind.
Whistleblowers provide an invaluable service as individuals who bring certain types of wrongdoing to light. It is possible to report individuals, as well as entire corporations and government organizations, for illegal activity. As you can imagine, not all employers and companies respond well to reports of illegal activity, and they may attempt to retaliate against the individual who filed a report. There are laws that make retaliation against a whistleblower illegal, and you do not have to simply accept this treatment in silence.
What counts as retaliation?
There are various actions that could count as retaliation against a whistleblower. For example, an employer may terminate you after learning of your report, or you may face other discouraging and inappropriate treatment. This includes harassment, demotion, loss of benefits, loss of opportunities and more. The specific legal protections available to you depend on where you work and the nature of the illegal activity. For example, whistleblowers within the federal government have legal protections that are applicable only in cases involving government employees.
The False Claims Act encourages individuals to speak out when they know their employer is defrauding the federal government in any way. This act also includes provisions that prohibit employers from acting out against workers who report the fraud, and those who experienced retaliation could receive back pay and a reinstatement of their former position if terminated.
Where should you start?
If you are considering filing a report against your employer regarding illegal activity, you will benefit from first knowing your rights. Even if you attempt to do this anonymously, you could still face a negative response from your employer. If you experience retaliation, you have the right to take action regarding the protection of your employment and repayment of any lost wages.
Whether you wish to prepare an anonymous disclosure or you want to discuss your options regarding a civil claim for retaliation, you will benefit from an assessment of your case and explanation of how to proceed in the most effective manner.