State and federal laws, including Florida's Whistleblower Protection Act and the federal False Claims Act, offer protections to employees who blow the whistle on supervisors and managers who willingly engage in illegal or unethical activity. However, to be afforded full protection under the law, an employee must go through the proper channels when reporting a violation.
The first step is to report the violation to the employer. Whether you're dealing with sexual harassment, discrimination, health and safety violations, fraud, or wage and hour violations, the issue should be reported to your manager or other appropriate personnel. Unfortunately, in many cases, this kind of reporting doesn't lead to a remedy, and it becomes necessary to report the matter to the appropriate outside agency.
Under Florida's Whistleblower Protection Act, public and private employees are protected against retaliation, wrongful termination and disciplinary action for reporting a violation or suspected violation of law or government regulation.
If an employer retaliates against an employee on such grounds, then the employee may be entitled to a number of remedies. Depending on the facts of the case, those remedies could include:
- Lost wages
- Back pay
- Back and full benefits
- Reinstatement of employment
- Temporary reinstatement of employment
- Other costs and damages resulting from mistreatment
The federal False Claims Act also provides that an employee -- called a "relator" under the Act -- may be entitled to a share of any amount of money recovered by the government as a result of the whistleblowing. The possibility of a monetary reward serves as a great incentive to put an end to fraud.
If you believe you have a whistleblower claim against an employer, then don't hesitate to speak with an employment law and employee rights attorney. A lawyer can explain what steps you should take, what evidence you should preserve, and what your rights are.