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3 actions that can make an employee a whistleblower

On Behalf of | Jul 11, 2024 | Whistleblower Law |

Some employee actions are protected under federal and state or local laws. Speaking up about illegal or dangerous conduct at a business makes a worker a whistleblower. There are a number of federal and state laws that may protect some but not all whistleblowers from corporate retaliation and other consequences.

Those who realize that their employer has violated the law or failed to comply with crucial safety standards may decide become whistleblowers. Whistleblowers should not face retaliation from their companies. Their jobs should not be at risk because they speak up about organizational misconduct.

Employees who are familiar with their protections as whistleblowers can assert themselves with less concern about professional and financial consequences. For example, the following actions might lead to an employee being treated as a whistleblower.

Filing an internal complaint

Perhaps the foreman of a construction crew has repeatedly pressured employees to ignore certain safety statutes because of how time-consuming and expensive compliance can be. If there have been unsafe or illegal workplace practices, one worker may want to speak up about their concerns. They may give the company the benefit of the doubt and report the matter internally. Notifying human resources or management about illegal and unsafe conduct is one way for a worker to become a whistleblower who may have protection from corporate retaliation.

Notifying regulatory authorities

Where it is clear that a company is already aware of misconduct, workers may not get any support after internal reports. In some cases, they may not even bother making an internal report because the company has clearly embraced illegal workplace habits. The decision to involve state or federal regulatory authorities in a company’s misconduct is a difficult one. The organization could be at risk of enforcement efforts that could affect its finances and future operations. Despite those concerns, many workers recognize that the best means of resolving company misconduct is to notify authorities and become a whistleblower.

Filing a civil lawsuit

Some workers are in a position to take legal action against their employers on behalf of the government. Workers in the government contracting and healthcare industries can file lawsuits under the federal or state False Claims Act. They act as a relator because they have access to information about false claims presented to the government for payment. These qui tam lawsuits make someone a whistleblower and entitle them to protection from employer retaliation. Even if a worker has not previously filed internal or external complaints, their decision to take legal action in filing a False Claim Act lawsuit or asserting violations of the False Claims Act can qualify them as a whistleblower with some protections.

Whistleblowers often need assistance when they stand up to corporate misconduct. They may also need help holding companies accountable for violating their whistleblower protections. Those punished or terminated for reporting corporate misconduct can potentially seek recovery for financial losses arising from a company’s retaliation.

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