Whistleblowing, a concept dating back hundreds of years, boils down to one essential act: an employee bringing to light illegal activity committed by their employer. Whistleblowers, the employees exposing the illegal activity, take part in a serious, but appreciated process that tests the true will of those seeking to make wrongs right. When employees observe or experience illegal activities promoted by their employer, some receive the ethical call to bring this to light. In these circumstances, initiating a whistleblower lawsuit is an option that allows an employee to work with a specialized whistleblower attorney, follow the prescribed process determined by federal and state statutes, navigate regulatory board hearings, and hold the employer accountable for their wrongdoing.
Who Can Be a Whistleblower?
Any employee – full-time, part-time, or contractor – can be a whistleblower. If an employee observes illegal activities in violation of any of a multitude of statutes, including the Affordable Care Act, Federal Claims Act, Clean Water Act, and Occupational Safety and Health Act, and have legally collected evidence of such acts, that employee is in the best position to become a whistleblower. Of all the steps in the process a whistleblower must follow, the most important is to obtain all evidence legally – if any evidence is obtained illegally, it will likely be excluded from any lawsuit. It is incredibly important to consult with experienced attorneys to determine your state’s laws regarding evidence collection for different materials as each state has differing laws regarding recording telephone calls and conversations, production of internal emails and data, and production of internal documents.
Is Whistleblowing Illegal?
Whistleblowers are in a precarious and often frightening situation. It is important for whistleblowers to understand their protections, rights, and limits under the law. As stated above, a whistleblower must be careful in obtaining evidence for production – whether a private, public, or government employer, state laws will differ in their limitations. Additionally, with whistleblowers exposing government employers, documents and information regarding national security, often marked as classified materials, are illegal to produce in any format and can lead to serious criminal penalties if produced.
The good news is that whistleblowers do enjoy a good number of protections when lawfully producing evidence and filing a whistleblower lawsuit. Whistleblowers are federally protected from retaliation across all fields, including public and private employees. Time and time again, whistleblowers experience retaliation in many ways, including an abnormal increase or decrease in workload or hours assigned, sudden firing, reduction in pay, or demotion.
How to be a Whistleblower Safely
The key to being a whistleblower safely is to first have an experienced attorney on your side. Consultations with your attorney to build a plan, discuss the evidence, and calendar deadlines will be important to properly litigate your case. There are many different deadlines with each individual whistleblower case and there are more details for each specific statute an employer is in violation of. The process becomes even more complicated when a whistleblower experiences retaliation. Specialized attorneys will know how to navigate these processes with speed and confidence on your behalf. One of the few ways employers are held accountable, whistleblower actions can successfully change behavior and sway opinion to restrict bad acts committed against any party.
The whistleblower attorneys at The Simon Law Firm, P.C. are ready to have confidential consultations with whistleblowers, guide them through the difficult and often confusing process, and advocate on their behalf, in their best interests, so beneficial resolutions can be achieved. It is important to begin conversations with your attorney as soon as possible to have the most time to work on your case. Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation if you believe you have a whistleblower lawsuit.