When an employee reports violations or illegal activity at work, federal and state equal employment opportunity laws protect them from retaliation. This is true no matter if they report violations of safety codes, discrimination, harassment, violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, financial fraud, or other illegal activities. The laws in place to protect you in these situations are known as whistleblower laws.
A whistleblower lawyer at Gacovino, Lake & Associates, P.C. can help answer any questions you have about federal or state whistleblower laws and help prevent retaliation that threatens your well-being or livelihood. We understand how the laws work to protect employees who report wrongdoing and can ensure you get the protection you deserve.
Discuss your situation with us during a free, confidential case evaluation today: 800-550-0000.
Who Do Whistleblower Laws Protect?
Whistleblower laws protect anyone who reports almost any type of illegal activity. This may include:
- Violations of safety laws, such as those enacted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
- Fraud against the government
- Health care fraud including Medicaid billing fraud
- Violations of environmental protection laws
- Violations of securities laws
- Tax fraud
- Selling of defective or faulty products
- Accounting fraud
The primary threat to a whistleblower is retaliation. When a whistleblower makes their information publicly known — either to the company itself or to an outside agency — they are putting their well-being and livelihood on the line. They could face threats from within the company, or from other stakeholders. The goal of whistleblower laws is to offer protection for them, ensuring others step forward in the future.
Whistleblower laws are primarily enacted through states, as well as through OSHA and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Each of these agencies serve different but equally vital roles in protecting whistleblowers.
Proving Your Employer Is Retaliating Against You
In general, if you believe — and report — that your employer is violating the law, you qualify for whistleblower protection. Even if your allegations turn out to be untrue, believing they were true when you reported them allows you to qualify for protection against any type of retaliation. This means your employer cannot threaten, fire, demote, harass, or cut your pay in response to your report.
Employers try to punish employees who act as whistleblowers all too often, but we can fight back by alleging retaliation and asking for damages including lost wages, back pay, and reinstatement.
Filing a whistleblower protection claim requires us to show:
- You qualify for whistleblower protection as an employee or other covered person who reported an illegal activity
- Your employer knows it was you who filed the report
- Your employer retaliated against you because of your report
- This retaliation, e.g., firing you, reducing your compensation or benefits, or otherwise negatively affecting your job, caused you harm
- You would not have been subject to this action if you had not filed the report against your employer
Often, the most difficult part of this process is proving your employer acted out of retaliation. Many employers handle the “punishments” they hand down in a manner that makes it hard to show they are acting out of retaliation. To prove they fired you or reduced your pay out of retaliation, we need to show:
- They have a generally hostile manner toward you (that began after you filed your report)
- They know you reported their misconduct
- The way they treated you before your report
- Any proof of satisfaction with your work before your report, such as reviews
- Any new conditions that applied to your employment after your report
- Their treatment of other employees with similar education, training, and experience
- When they terminated you, cut your hours, or otherwise acted out against you
- The procedure they followed to terminate you, and what they said
- Documentation of any verbal or written threats
What Can I Recover in a Whistleblower Claim?
What you can recover depends primarily on the activities you reported on and whether you suffered retaliation. You might only be entitled to lost wages or back pay or you could recover a portion of a large civil settlement the company must pay, like in the case of the $389 million settlement against DaVita HealthCare Partners.
Enlist the Help of An Attorney for Your Whistleblower Case
Whistleblower laws, including both state and federal laws, the False Claims Act and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, are complex. Proving retaliation (and getting your job back, claiming lost wages, or fighting for back pay) is not as simple as it might seem, even if you believe the retaliation is obvious. These cases are often extremely expensive to investigate and take to court, and they require not only a knowledgeable attorney but one with the resources to handle them.
When you ask us to help you with your whistleblower case, you can feel confident you are getting the attention and dedication you need from your legal counsel. We will focus our attention on managing all aspects of your case. We will investigate the alleged retaliation and collect evidence to show your employer is acting out against you.
We are not afraid to stand toe-to-toe with an entire team of corporate attorneys when necessary. We will hire consultants and expert witnesses as necessary and cover a number of out-of-pocket expenses during the legal process. Only once we recover compensation for you will we get paid.
While we can often get a fair and just resolution in these cases without going to court, we will not back down and are willing to litigate whistleblower protection cases when necessary. No matter if your employer has already fired you, you believe retaliation is coming, or you are considering acting as a whistleblower but worry about possible retaliation, we can help. We will protect your rights, ensuring you continue to have a safe work environment free from harassment or other retaliation.
Contact a Whistleblower Lawyer About Your Case Today
If you believe you are facing the possibility of retribution because you brought allegations of your employer’s illegal activities to light, we may be able to offer you protection under state or federal whistleblower laws. The law bars your employer from acting out against you for this type of report, and we can hold them responsible for their illegal actions if they attempt to.
Call the legal team from Gacovino, Lake & Associates, P.C., today at 800-550-0000 for a confidential case review and consultation.