The term “whistleblower” often describes an employee who reports violations of the law by his or her employer. Laws on the federal and state level have been created to protect employees from retaliation or harassment by employers. These laws also protect employees from being unfairly terminated from their position or being forced to quit through constructive discharge. Constructive discharge is the act of an employer to make working conditions intolerable to the point where an employee is forced to quit his or her job.
State and Federal Protection for Whistleblowers
Florida’s Whistle-blower Act was passed to protect employees who report violations by employers for improper use of authority, gross neglect, abuse of duty or gross waste of funds. Employees reporting violations that may cause specific and serious danger to the health, safety and welfare of the public are also protected.(1)
Federal law also provides protections for employees reporting similar violations. The Clean Air Act, the newly enacted healthcare act and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) are some federal statutes containing whistleblower protections. OSHA handles complaints under the whistleblower provisions of 17 different federal laws.(2) These laws pertain to workplace health and safety, pipeline safety, federal rail safety and consumer product safety, among others. According to the Supreme Court, federal protection for whistleblowers may not supersede state statutes and common law protections. In Palm Beach County, including Boca Raton, Jupiter, Wellington or West Palm Beach, whistleblower attorneys have the knowledge to advise whether federal law supplements employee rights under Florida’s Whistle-blower Act.
Requirements for Whistleblower Protection
Florida’s Whistle-blower Act protects employees from retaliation by their employer. Some other areas where the law protects employees may include:
- Objecting to or refusal to participate in illegal activity
- Giving written notice to employer of intent to disclose illegal activity
- Cooperating with authorities investigating illegal activity
Whistleblower law includes many exceptions for applying these requirements.(3) A knowledgeable whistleblower lawyer can explain how these issues affect your particular situation as either an employer or an employee.
Legal Advice for Employers and Employees
An attorney experienced in whistleblower laws can provide legal advice on this issue to employers and employees. Whistleblower allegations affect an employer’s reputation. Employees who report employer violations also could risk damage to their reputation and could jeopardize future employment. Employees who may need protection for reporting illegal activities in their workplace will benefit from contacting Palm Beach County whistleblower lawyers for legal advice. They can also provide advice to employers on proper labor and employment law practices to prevent potential whistleblower claims.
2-Employment Law Guide, Other Workplace Standards: Whistleblower and Retaliations Protections:
3-Employment Law Guide, Other Workplace Standards: Whistleblower and Retaliations Protections, Basic Provisions/Requirements: