A Note from a Whistleblower Attorney
Were you fired for making a complaint to a government agency?
If you believe you have been the target of a whistleblower issue, there are some very important things that you need to know. “Whistleblowing” is when you report your employer to a government agency for illegal or improper activity. Whistleblower protection laws forbid employers from retaliating against employees who report or threaten to report them to government agencies.
Whistleblower protection laws protect employees who make actual reports OR who threaten to make reports but do not actually do so. However, just making an internal complaint, without going to a government agency or threatening to go to a government agency, is not enough. Additionally, whistleblower protection laws only apply when the employer retaliates because you reported them- if the employer never knows or suspects you made the report, and you are fired for some other reason, whistleblower protection laws do not apply.
Here’s a basic example: Let’s say you worked at a restaurant where the food wasn’t always fresh and things were going past the expiration date and still being served. You realized this was an issue and that your boss is knowingly selling bad food, so you contact OSHA about the matter. Once OSHA finds out, they come to inspect, and when your boss learns it was you that made the call, he begins to belittle you and eventually terminates you for reporting it. This would be a violation of law.
Here’s another example: Let’s say you worked at a restaurant where the food wasn’t always fresh and things were going past the expiration date and still being served. You called in an anonymous tip to a health inspector, who comes by and says that he’s doing a surprise visit. Your boss never knows or suspects that you or anyone else reported the expired food. The inspector finds several violations and penalizes the restaurant. Because of the financial loss caused by the inspection, your employer has to lay off several employees and you are one of them. Even though you were indirectly fired as a result of making a complaint, your employer did not intentionally retaliate against you because no one even knew you were the one to call the inspector. This is most likely NOT a violation of the whistleblower protection statutes.
If you believe you have a whistleblower claim, contact a lawyer at Gold Star Law today! It is important to note that the statute of limitations in whistleblower claims can be VERY short, so call as soon as you can.