Companies sometimes engage in illegal behavior or demand that their employees engage in illegal behavior on their behalf. In other situations, workers assist government agencies with their investigations into fraud, abuse, and other deceptive business practices. For those employees that refuse to participate in illegal conduct, blow the whistle on their employer’s illegal conduct or assist a government agency with an investigation into illegal conduct, they often become targets for retaliation. There are Federal and State laws that protect employees from retaliation after blowing the whistle on illegal conduct that the Tampa whistleblower lawyers at Florin Gray Bouzas Owens understand.
Employer Retaliation Impacts Many Different Terms of Conditions of Employment
- Forced Resignation/Constructive Discharge
- Failure to Promote
- Loss of Pay
- Loss of Benefits
These are just some of many forms of retaliation in the workplace and courts will often consider an employer’s behavior to be retaliatory if the action against the employee would reasonably dissuade other workers from engaging in similar activity that is protected.
Another type of whistleblower case is called qui tam. In a qui tam case, a person brings a claim on behalf of the government. The government is the party in the case, but the person bringing the claim on behalf of the government is entitled to a percentage of the award if the government prevails. A common employment qui tam claim falls under the federal False Claims Act where an employee of a federal contractor blows the whistle on his or her employer for defrauding the federal government. If successful, an employee could receive up to 30% of the award in a claim under the False Claims Act.
Tampa Whistleblower Attorneys | Florin Gray Bouzas Owens
Many workers are afraid to oppose activity by their employer that they reasonably and in good faith believe is illegal. For those that have the courage to stand up for what is right, the law provides protections. Those protections are vast, as are the types of behavior by an employer that are deemed to be retaliatory under the law.
Do you believe that your employer retaliated against you due to voicing your opposition or reporting illegal behavior? If so, our Tampa whistleblower attorneys are here to help. Florin Gray Bouzas Owens is committed to protecting brave whistleblowers that suffer adverse consequences in the workplace.
Examples of “Whistleblowing” at Work
“Blowing the whistle” on an employer’s illegal conduct means disclosing information to authorities or the public about the illegal actions of the employer, corporation, or government body. This definition can apply to many different workplace scenarios, from a worker helping the government with an investigation to anonymously phoning in a white-collar crime like embezzlement. Any of the following situations could end in an employee blowing the whistle on suspicious, wrongful, or illegal activity:
- Health or safety violations
- Breaking federal hours-of-service regulations
- Fraudulent activities connected to stocks and bonds
- Defrauding the U.S. government
- Tax fraud
- Violations of the Environmental Protection Agency regulations
- Workplace harassment or discrimination
It is within every U.S. employee’s rights to report an employer who engages in any action or behavior that is against the law or unethical. If an employee suspects something is amiss, he or she should go directly to the federal government to report the crime. An employee can file a report or complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), or the local police at 911. Should the employee then face adverse actions at work, such as a demotion or work termination, he or she might be the victim of whistleblower retaliation.
What Is the Whistleblower Protection Act?
The Whistleblower Protection Act is a federal statute that Congress passed in 1989. According to Congress, the goal of the act was to “protect the rights of federal employees, prevent reprisals, and eliminate wrongdoing within the government.” The act makes it easier for employees to report corruption within the workplace and offers protection from retaliation for those who do. The act also made the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) its own entity, putting it in charge of representing whistleblowers.
Under the Whistleblower Protection Act, current and former federal employees can go straight to the Office of Special Counsel to report any alleged instances of misconduct, including broken laws, mismanagement, waste of funds, and abuse of authority. The OSC will review the report and, if it deems there is enough evidence of wrongdoing, bring it to the proper federal agency for further investigation. The employee reporting the wrongdoing must provide first-hand knowledge or evidence of the wrongdoing and cannot disclose the information anonymously.
How Do I Prove That Whistleblowing Retaliation Happened to Me?
You may be eligible for compensation if you can prove that your employer or manager retaliated against you as a protected whistleblower. If you believe your workplace retaliated against you for blowing the whistle, the OSC will also take and investigate your claim. You must show that you reported misconduct, an official threatened or took adverse action against you, and that your report caused the adverse action. Should the OSC accept your retaliation claim, you could receive back pay, compensation for lost benefits, attorneys’ fees, and a clean resume.
An attorney can help you prove your whistleblowing claim in Tampa. Retaining a lawyer to represent you during meetings with the OSC and any subsequent court cases or settlements takes the burden of legal action off you. The team at Florin Gray Bouzas Owens can help gather any available evidence of retaliation, put your case together, and communicate with the proper agencies to help settle your claim. To find out if we can take on your case, call (727) 254-5255 for a free consultation today.
“Several law firms told me I didn’t have a viable case. I had almost given up but then Attorney Christopher Gray took the time to analyze my case by developing a successful strategy. Attorney Gray’s expertise and vast legal knowledge of the unique aspects of my case resulted in a significant settlement. I would’ve saved a lot of time by contacting this law firm from the very beginning.” – Ken