Whistleblower Retaliation: Fighting for Your Rights
Protected under federal and state laws, whistleblowers can file a lawsuit against their employer if they suspect retaliation against their whistleblowing activities. Attorney Kelly Chanfrau is board certified by the Florida Bar as an expert in Labor and Employment Law and can fight against whistleblower retaliation, which can include anything from harassment to termination. Learn more about your rights as a whistleblower during a free case review. You can message us online or call us at our Daytona Beach, FL, office at (386) 258-7313, or our Coast, FL, office at (386) 439-7760.
What is a Whistleblower?
A whistleblower is an employee who exposes an organization’s illegal or immoral activity. Such activities include violations of safety regulations, financial fraud, or actions that create a direct threat or hazard to the public or employees. Some of the most common violations relate to wage and hour labor laws or the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA).
However, the state of Florida protects both private and public employees from retaliation under the Florida Whistleblower's Act. This law allows Florida workers to file lawsuits against employers for back pay, benefits, and other lost wages, on top of other damage. Additionally, federal whistleblower statutes incentivize workers to call the alarm on employers engaging in certain types of fraud by offering financial rewards and protection. Whistleblowers who have filed “Qui Tam” lawsuits have won millions when the federal government recovers money related to their company's fraud.
Whistleblower Protected Activities
The state of Florida protects public employees in Fla. Stat. § 112.3187 , which states that an employee may not be discharged or discriminated against for disclosing information regarding violations of federal, state or local law. Additionally, they may not face retaliation for whistleblowing against acts, or suspected acts, of waste, gross mismanagement, Medicaid fraud, or neglectful duty by an agency or independent contractor.
Under Fla. Stat. § 448.102 , employees in the private sector may not be let go or discriminated against for disclosing or intending to disclose a company’s violation of a law or regulation to an appropriate governmental agency. The employee does have a responsibility to bring the issue to the attention of a supervisor in writing in order for the company to make a correction. Additionally, an employee may not be discharged or discriminated against for participating in an investigation or for refusing to participate in an activity that is violation of a law or regulation.
Employees are protected against retaliation for participating in an investigation, or refusing to engage in an activity that violates a law or regulation, among other protections.
Whistleblower Retaliation and Harassment
Retaliatory actions against whistleblowers can range from subtle harassment to outright persecution. Whistleblowers commonly endure retaliation in the form of:
- Cut hours
- Reduced pay
- Denial of benefits
- Refusal to promote
- Negative performance reviews
Any action that negatively affects the whistleblower's status or work environment may be considered workplace retaliation and be grounds for a lawsuit.
Proving a whistleblower case will involve demonstrating the following:
- You were engaged in a protected activity
- Your employer was aware of this protected activity
- You suffered from adverse employment actions
- There is a connection between the protected activity and the adverse employment actions
Often a whistleblower only needs to prove that their protected activity was a contributing factor to the adverse employment actions they endured, rather than the only reason. Demonstrating the connection between the protected activity and adverse employment actions is sometimes as simple as proving a company decision-maker knew about the protected activity within a certain time frame of the adverse action. It is then the employer’s responsibility to show that the adverse employment action was not related to the protected activity.
How an Employment Lawyer Can Help
Kelly Chanfrau has received state board certification in Labor and Employment Law, a designation only achieved by seven percent of Florida lawyers. Her many accolades include an AVVO Rating of “10.0 Superb” and being named one of the “Best Lawyers In America – Labor Law” (2016 and 2017).
Backed with years of employment law experience, she can fight for maximum damages relating to your whistleblower case, including
- Back pay
- Front pay
- Compensatory damages, or an amount of money to restore you to your state prior to retaliation. This may include money for pain and suffering, and injury to reputation.
- Liquidated damages, or an award of money that punishes your employer and deters them from violating whistleblower protections.
During a consultation, she will ask in-depth questions about your case to determine the best course of action.
Schedule a Free Consultation
Whistleblower cases can be difficult to prove. Consequently, you will often benefit from being represented by an experienced labor attorney. If you believe you have been subjected to illegal retaliation, message us or call us at our Daytona Beach office at (386) 258-7313 or our Palm Coast office at (386) 439-7760.