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The attorneys at The Employment Law Group® law firm have substantial experience litigating whistleblower retaliation claims on behalf of employees, including in the following areas:
The Employment Law Group® law firm has established important precedent under whistleblower protection laws, including in Kalkunte v. DVI Financial Services, Inc. and Leznik v. Nektar Therapeutics, Inc., and has helped draft whistleblower protection laws.
An overview of whistleblower protection laws
There are a wide range of laws both at the state and federal level that protect whistleblowers from retaliation and most states recognize a common law action for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy. The decision to pursue a retaliation claim under state and/or federal law can be complex and therefore, it is critical to retain skilled counsel capable of determining which federal and/or state laws are best suited to prosecute a whistleblower retaliation claim.
What federal laws protect whistleblowers?
Various federal laws protect whistleblowers. For example, the False Claims Act "(FCA)" protects employees who are retaliated against for disclosing fraud against the government. The Department of Labor (DOL) administers fifteen whistleblower provisions that protect employees who disclose information about violations of laws pertaining to airline, trucking, nuclear, environmental, rail and workplace safety. The Dodd-Frank Act protects whistleblowers who report violations of securities laws to either the SEC or Commodities Futures Trading Commission. The Act also protects employees who report fraud relating to a consumer financial product or service to the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection. Federal employees can pursue a retaliation claim under the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA), which prohibits federal agencies from retaliating against federal employees who engage in whistleblowing activities.
In addition, Congress recently enacted
whistleblower protections for
contractor employees and employees of state and local governments to
safeguard against fraudulent spending of stimulus funds. To learn more
about the new whistleblower protections, click here.
Employees alleging whistleblower retaliation against an employer should retain experienced counsel as soon as possible because many whistleblower retaliation claims have a short statute of limitations.
What state laws protect whistleblowers?
More than thirty-eight states have enacted statutory whistleblower protections, some of which are limited to public sector employees. An example is the D.C. Whistleblower Protection Act which protects employees of the D.C. government who suffer retaliation because of their protected disclosures or refusal to follow illegal orders. In addition, most states recognize a public policy exception to the employment-at-will doctrine under common law.
What activities are protected under whistleblower protection laws?
Whistleblower protection laws generally cover a broad range of protected disclosure, including providing information to a supervisor or government agency that the whistleblower reasonably believes evidences:
a violation of law, rule or regulation;
gross waste of funds;
an abuse of authority; or
a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.
What must the plaintiff prove to prevail?
To be successful under most whistleblower retaliation laws, an employee must prove the following:
That she engaged in protected activity;
That the employer knew that she engaged in protected activity;
That the employer took an adverse personnel action against her; and
That the protected activity contributed to the employer's decision to take the adverse action.
What retaliatory acts are prohibited by whistleblower protection statutes?
Many whistleblower protection laws prohibit a broad range of retaliatory actions, including demotion, termination, denial of benefits, failure to hire, failure to promote, intimidation, reassignment, and any other discriminatory action that would negatively impact the terms and conditions of the whistleblower's employment or would dissuade a reasonable person from engaging in further protected conduct.
What can a prevailing whistleblower recover?
Under many whistleblower protection laws, a prevailing employee can recover back pay for lost wages, front pay for future lost wages, compensatory damages, and litigation costs, including attorney fees. Under some whistleblower protection laws, a prevailing employee can obtain exemplary or punitive damages.
The Employment Law Group® law firm has published articles on representing and protecting whistleblowers:
"Whistleblower Provisions Of The Dodd-Frank Act," Law360 (July 20, 2010).
"Whistleblower Protections in the Finance Reform Bill," Law360 (May 27, 2010).
"Congress Enacts Robust Whistleblower Protections To Prevent Fraud In Stimulus Spending," Employee Advocate (May 2010).
"Whistleblower Protections Under Health Care Bill," Law360 (April 12, 2010).
"2010 Annual Update on the Whistleblower Provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002," American Bar Association Section of Labor and Employment Law Subcommittee on the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (February 2010).
"Federal Whistleblower Protections for Transportation Employees,” The Employee Advocate (Spring/Summer 2009)
"SOX: A Robust Remedy For Whistleblowers," Law360 (August 2009)
“Representing Whistleblowers in Adler Wrongful Discharge Actions,” Maryland Bar Journal (July 2009).
"Protecting the Whistleblower," Corporate Responsibility Officer (February 2008)
"Representing Whistleblowers," The Docket (November 2006).
"Win for Whistleblowers," National Law Journal (September 8, 2008)
"The Umpires Strike Back", Legal Times (June 2008)
"Seven Questions For Sarbanes-Oxley Whistleblowers To Ask," The Practical Lawyer (October 2007)
"SOX's Whistleblower Provision–Promise Unfulfilled," Securities Litigation Reporter Vol. 4, Issue 7 (July/August 2007).
"Six Steps to Limiting Sarbanes-Oxley Whistleblower Liability," IT Business Edge (January 16, 2007).
"Whistleblower Protections in the Nonprofit Sector," Nonprofit Risk Management Center (September 2005).
"Complying with Sarbanes-Oxley's Document Destruction Provisions," Association Management (July 2004).
"Whistleblower Protection Programs for Associations," Association Management (June 2004).
"Litigating Whistleblower Cases," a chapter in Whistleblowing: The Law of Retaliatory Discharge (BNA Books 2004).
Disclaimer: This website is maintained by The Employment Law Group® law firm to provide general information about itself and the field of employment law. The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice upon which you should rely or act. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of and access to this website does not create an attorney-client relationship between The Employment Law Group® and the user or browser. You should not send any confidential information to us until and unless a formal attorney-client relationship has been established. If you would like to discuss your potential claim call us at 1-888-603-0983 or contact us by email at email@example.com.
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ABOUT THE FIRM
The Employment Law Group® law firm represents employees nationally who have blown the whistle on corporate fraud and abuse and who have been the victims of discrimination, harassment, or other violations of their civil rights. With offices in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and Los Angeles, California, The Employment Law Group® law firm’s seasoned trial attorneys have earned a highly desirable record of favorable settlements and verdicts on behalf of its clients.