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What Protections Do Whistleblowers Have?


At some point in your career, you may become aware of wrongdoings by your employer. Discovering information like this is a difficult situation for any employee, and you know that you have a responsibility to report it and draw attention to the issue. However, reporting information that could damage your company’s reputation and get people into legal trouble is not easy. While you have the right to report wrongdoing and illegal conduct, many employees face retaliation for doing so.

Fearing retaliation can prevent you from speaking up, but you shouldn’t let it. Retaliation is illegal and there are various protections for whistleblowers. If you do experience retaliation, the New York City employee rights lawyers are here for you.

What is Retaliation?

As an employee, you have the right to engage in protected activity, which includes the right to report wrongdoing in your workplace. When an employee experiences adverse employment actions due to this, it’s known as retaliation, which is illegal. Retaliation can occur in various forms, including demotions, decreasing pay, switching to a less desirable schedule, and terminations.

Federal Whistleblower Protections

There are many federal laws that protect whistleblowers in a range of situations. Here are a few important whistleblower protections employees should know.

Whistleblower Protection Act

The Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 provides protections for federal government employees. This Act covers “any disclosure of information” involving government illegality, waste, and corruption, although some information may be illegal to reveal to the public. The Whistleblower Protection Act also allows employees to disclose this information confidentially.

Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 helps protect workers’ safety in the workplace. However, not all employers follow the regulations set by OSHA. If your employer violates the protections you have under OSHA, you have the right to report them. OSHA also provides protections for whistleblowers who report their employers for violating regulations and are retaliated against for doing so.

Wage and Hour Division (WHD)

The Wage and Hour Division enforces several federal laws that protect employee rights, including the Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA). Under the WHD, employees are protected from reporting issues related to the laws the agency enforces. This includes issues regarding minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, lie detector testing, family and medical leave, and youth employment.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

The EEOC enforces various laws that protect employees from employment discrimination. The EEOC also prohibits retaliation against employees who engage in protected activity. Protected activity under the EEOC includes reporting discrimination, refusing to participate in discriminatory conduct, participating in an investigation, and more. Retaliation is also the most common charge filed with the EEOC.

False Claims Act (FCA)

The False Claims Act helps to combat fraud against the government. The FCA also allows private citizens to file suits on behalf of the government when they believe someone or an organization has defrauded the government. This is known as a qui tam lawsuit, and citizens may receive a portion of the compensation.

New York Whistleblower Protections

New York Labor Law Section 740 provides protections for employees in New York who blow the whistle. This protects NY employees who disclose or threaten to disclose violations, provide information for or testify before a public body conducting a violation, or object or refuse to participate in a violation.

New York City Whistleblower Protections

New York City’s Whistleblower Law protects city employees who report misconduct, corruption, criminal activity, conflicts of interest, gross mismanagement, and abuse of authority. An employee must report this information to the Department of Investigation or to a member of the City Council, the Public Advocate, or the Comptroller.

Protect Your Rights as a Whistleblower

If you’ve reported or opposed wrongdoing in your workplace, you know that you’ve ultimately done the right thing. However, doing so may make you a target for retaliation, and if it does, you have protections. Brown Kwon & Lam can help protect your whistleblower and qui tam rights.

Contact our employee rights lawyers today for help.