Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled.
- President Barack Obama
Whistleblowers have been responsible for some dramatic changes and calls to action in our nation's history. From Edward Snowden's recent leak of National Security Agency data, to Daniel Ellsberg making public the Pentagon Papers, to Frank Serpico's unearthing of police corruption, whistleblowers have changed America.
Whistleblowers expose corruption and stand up for safe working conditions. They hold employers accountable who otherwise may go unchecked. In this country, whistleblowers have rights and employers cannot punish or retaliate against anyone who calls attention to wrongful conduct.
If you were brave enough to stand up against your employer, you need an attorney who will have the same passion to fight for you. If you have suffered retaliation because you "blew the whistle," the lawyers at Haynes & Haynes are ready to stand up for you. Fill out our online form today for a free consultation!
What Rights Do Whistleblowers Have?
Whistleblowers have rights under various laws, depending upon the nature of the activity involved. Employees of publicly-traded companies who expose activities which may cause broad public harm are protected by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Individuals who report unsafe working conditions are protected by the Occupational Safety and Health Act or similar laws. Those who report discrimination in the workplace are also protected from retaliation.
An employer or other covered entity cannot retaliate or take "adverse action" against you for being a whistleblower. Examples of actions a company cannot take against a whistleblower include:
- Firing or laying off
- Denying overtime
- Denying benefits
- Failing to hire or rehire
- Intimidation or harassment
- Making threats
- Reassignment to less desirable positions
- Failing to promote
- Reducing pay or hours
- Any other action which would deter a reasonable person from complaining
Proving a Whistleblower Case
In order to establish that your employer retaliated against you, your attorney will need to prove that:
- You engaged in an activity that was covered by a whistleblower statute;
- The employer knew of or at least suspected this protected activity;
- The employer took some action that adversely affected your employment; and
- The adverse action was motivated by the protected whistleblower activity.
If these points are all proven and a case is won, compensation for the whistleblower can include restoration to a job, payment of lost wages, restoration of benefits, and more.
Hazardous Working Conditions
You have the right to refuse to do a job if the conditions are hazardous. The Occupational Safety and Health Act covers workers who report hazardous conditions to their employers, the Occupational Safety and Health Association ("OSHA"), or other government agencies with jurisdiction over unsafe or unhealthy working conditions. As with other whistleblower protections, you cannot be fired, denied a raise, transferred to another job, or have your wages or hours reduced because you brought a safety or health concern to light.
If you have been retaliated against for calling attention to poor working conditions, you have 30 days to file a complaint with OSHA. The complaint must include a detailed account of the reprisal. For this, it is in your best interest to have the experienced attorneys at Haynes & Haynes by your side.
Proving a Hazardous Working Conditions Case
To prove your working conditions are hazardous, you must:
- Believe you face death or serious injury, and that the situation at your job is clearly hazardous, such that any reasonable person would come to the same conclusion;
- Have tried to get your employer to correct the condition, but were unable to have it corrected such that there is no way to perform the job safely; and
- The situation is so urgent that you do not have time to eliminate the hazard through regulatory channels, such as OSHA.
Don't risk your health or that of your coworkers any longer. Contact Haynes & Haynes to see what can be done to correct the situation.
How We Can Help
No one who has the courage to stand up for the rights of workers and the public should ever face retaliation, but many do. Many cases of whistleblower retaliation pit a single employee against some of the biggest companies in the country - even the government. It can be a true David versus Goliath match. But at Haynes & Haynes, we are not intimidated by any opponent, no matter how formidable.
Your bravery is an inspiration to many. Let us fight for you. Fill out our online form or give us a call at (205) 879-0377 to discuss your situation. Keep the good fight going and seek what you are entitled to.