If you’ve noticed illegal and/or unethical practices occurring that are harmful to public interest, you should be able to exercise your First Amendment rights to freedom of speech. You should not feel as though you will suffer repercussions for speaking out about wrongdoing in your area.
Unfortunately, a lot of people do feel the pressure of potential repercussions. For example, they may feel that they cannot blow the whistle on illegal and/or harmful activity at the company they work for because they fear that they will be fired. Still others fear that the company or individual they are blowing the whistle on will sue them for slander or libel. This is where whistleblower attorneys can help.
The Law Protects Whistleblowers
Most states have whistleblower laws on the books that protect you if you report problems and/or illegal activities to the proper authorities. If you are going to gain protection, though, you will have to be absolutely sure that what you’ve witnessed is true and that you are not “crying wolf”.
Laws vary depending on your state, but if you avoid alerting the authorities to misconduct that is not actually occurring, you should be able to reap the benefits of protective whistleblower laws to avoid any kind of retribution or retaliation on the part of the company you’ve spoken out against.
Before you alert the authorities, you should first speak with qualified whistleblower attorneys who can help you understand the laws in your area. For example, in some states you will be protected against termination or other retaliation if you report your employer of any legal wrongdoing. However, in other states, you will only be protected when reporting violations of certain laws or groups of laws, such as environmental protection violations or violations of labor laws.
Are You Protected?
For the most part, because many whistleblowers are people employed by the companies upon which they report, whistleblower laws are in place to ensure that you are not immediately fired upon the revelation that you were the one who blew the whistle. However, you should not assume that you are covered by whistleblower laws simply because you spoke out against wrongdoing.
If, for example, you filed a report with the proper authorities and you were fired very shortly after your employer came to find out that you were the whistleblower, you are most likely covered by whistleblower statutes, and you should speak with whistleblower attorneys as soon as possible to establish your case.
When you consult with whistleblower attorneys, whether you have recently been fired for exposing wrongdoing or whether you are seeking legal counsel before blowing the whistle, they will most likely want to know a few facts about your situation and the actions surrounding your case. For example, if you’ve been fired, your attorney will want to know:
Does your company have a progressive discipline policy, and was it followed and documented properly leading up to your termination? (e.g., a number of reprimands, a probationary period, and/or suspension leading up to termination)
- Did you first try to speak to an authority figure at your workplace before going to the authorities? What was their response? Were you threatened or offered a bribe not to speak up?
- Have you witnessed other employees getting fired for whistleblowing?
- Did management and/or colleagues treat you differently after you reported illegal behavior? Were you passed over for promotions that you thought you deserved? Were you demoted or did you receive a pay cut?
Whistleblower attorneys can help you gain compensation if you have been wrongfully fired or treated poorly at your job for blowing the whistle on illegal activities. Call a whistleblower attorney today to discuss your case.