The unfortunate reality is that when employees learn of some type of dangerous or even illegal activity being perpetrated by their employer, they often feel as if they are left with few options, none of which are favorable.
Specifically, they may believe that they can either 1) ignore what they learned or 2) report the matter to a higher-up or outside agency. However, the first option may leave them with mixed emotions, while the second option may leave them frightened that they will be victimized by some sort of retaliatory action -- poor performance review, demotion, termination, etc.
The good news is that employees in these situations do have options. In today's post, we'll start to explore the legal protections available to state employees who choose to sound the alarm about malfeasance.
Protections under state law
The Whistleblower's Act, codified in sections 112.3187-112.31985 of the Florida Statutes, provides legal protection to those state employees who report abuse or fraud within the state government -- i.e., "blow the whistle."
The legislative intent behind this important law is twofold:
- To prevent state agencies or independent contractors from using retaliatory measures to punish employees who report legal violations on the part of their employer that create a substantial and specific hazard to the health, safety and welfare of the general public.
- To prevent state agencies or independent contractors from using retaliatory measures to punish employees who report legal violations on the part of their employer concerning improper use of government office, gross waste of funds or other gross neglect of duty.
We will continue to explore this important topic in future posts, including the process by which state employees can report fraud and abuse by their employers, and the options available to them should retaliatory actions take place.
Consider speaking with an experienced legal professional to learn more about your rights under the Whistleblower's Act or your options if you believe you were wrongfully terminated for speaking up.
Source: Florida Inspectors General, "Whistleblower's hotline," Accessed Nov. 20, 2014