What Every Employer Should Know About Whistleblower Protections
Every company has the potential to become the subject of a whistleblower action. Whistleblowers may step forward to report on alleged instances of fraud or other wrongful activities in the workplace. Regardless of how the whistleblower complaint is resolved, the whistleblowers themselves are under strict protection from retaliatory actions. Consult an attorney immediately if you have received notice of a whistleblower action. The legal guidance you will receive can help you avoid potential violations.
Federal Law Protections
Whistleblowers are protected from retaliatory actions under a number of federal laws. State laws may also be applicable in some cases. One of the most prominent federal laws is the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. This law was primarily intended to prevent shareholder fraud. However, it also contains provisions against whistleblower retaliation, as long as the whistleblower had a good faith intention when making the complaint. It is irrelevant whether a conviction results from the whistleblower complaint. Other federal laws that protect whistleblowers from retaliation include the following:
- Clean Air Act
- Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA)
- Energy Reorganization Act
- Safe Drinking Water Act
- Solid Waste Disposal Act
- Toxic Substance Control Act
- Water Pollution Control Act
Illegal Retaliatory Actions
In the workplace, whistleblower retaliation may take many forms. In general, whistleblowers are protected from any adverse action that was performed on the basis of the whistleblower complaint. For example, whistleblowers may not be fired, demoted, disciplined, or denied their benefits simply because they made a complaint. They are also protected from the following actions:
- Being blacklisted
- Being denied a promotion or overtime
- Being the subject of threats
- Being the subject of harassment or intimidation
- Being reassigned in a way that would adversely affect the chances of a promotion
- Having reduced pay or hours
Non-employees and former employees are protected from the failure to hire or rehire on the basis of the whistleblower complaint.
The employment law attorneys at Mesch Clark Rothschild can assist you if your company has been affected by whistleblower actions. We provide vigorous representation in court and before the National Labor Relations Board. Call our Tucson-based law office at (520) 624-8886 to request a consultation.