Last time, we discussed how state employees who learn about some type of dangerous or illegal activity being committed by their employer often feel as if they are left with only two options: 1) ignore it or 2) report it.
We also discussed how this first option is less than ideal and how the second action may leave them afraid of certain retaliatory action -- poor performance review, demotion, termination, etc. -- being taken against them.
Finally, we started discussing how the state Whistleblower's Act provides much-needed legal protections to state employees who choose to report malfeasance.
In today's post, we'll continue this conversation by examining the process by which state employees can safely report fraud and abuse by their employers.
The Office of the Florida Inspectors General, whose stated mission is to "promote accountability, integrity and efficiency for the citizens of Florida by providing objective, timely audit and investigative services," provides both a toll-free hotline and a post office box to which state employees may report wrongdoing by their employer.
It is important to note that if the information conveyed meets the criteria forth under the Whistleblower's Act, the state employee will be legally protected from retaliatory action by their employing agency. Furthermore, they may keep their identity confidential provided disclosure is not necessary to protect the health, safety or wellbeing of the public.
The toll-free number is (800) 543-5353 and the address is Post Office Box 151, Tallahassee, Florida, 3202.
Parties who can access the Whistleblower Hotline
In general, any state employee, former state employee, and applicants of agencies or independent contractors may contact the Whistleblower Hotline to report fraud and abuse.
For the purposes of the Whistleblower's Act, an independent contractor is essentially defined as any non-agency person or organization that enters into a business-related contract with a state agency.
Future posts will continue to explore this topic, including the type of information that necessitates whistleblowing and the options available to state employees should retaliatory actions take place.
If you believe you were wrongfully terminated for exercising your rights under the Whistleblower's Act, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible.
Source: Florida Inspectors General, "Whistleblower's hotline," Accessed Nov. 20, 2014