Charlotte Whistleblower Attorney
The lives and careers of employees can be damaged by pressure from an employer to commit illegal acts. Employees have the right to resist engaging in illegal conduct and to report it without fear of punishment and retaliation. Whistleblowers perform a public service by upholding the law, as well as what is ethical and fair. Because whistleblowers assume the risk and often must spend considerable time and effort pressing their claims, whistleblowers can be entitled to substantial rewards.
Blowing the whistle is never easy. Ideally, those concerned employees will meet with a Charlotte whistleblower attorney to protect themselves before going public with their concerns.
Getting Your Job Back & Other Compensation
There are a number of laws that protect whistleblowers, such as the False Claims Act, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and the Dodd-Frank Act. These laws apply in certain situations and protect workers from retaliation. If you are fired, you can use these laws to get your job back or other compensation.
For example, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act protects those who blow the whistle on securities fraud. Section 1514A prohibits an employer from threatening, demoting, suspending, harassing, discharging, or discriminating against an employer who provides information to the Securities and Exchange Commission on suspected violations. Any employee who suffers retaliation can sue for compensatory damages, including reinstatement, back pay, and attorneys’ fees.
Making Fraudsters Pay
Many whistleblower protection laws also provide for rewards or other incentives for those who blow the whistle on illegal conduct. The goal of these laws is not so much to make workers whole when they lose a job. Instead, the laws provide direct financial incentives to fight corruption.
The federal False Claims Act imposes liability on companies or individuals that defraud government programs. This law contains a provision allowing individuals who do not work for the government to file lawsuits on the government’s behalf. If successful, these individuals can receive a percentage of all money recovered.
For example, Karen might work for a contractor that has submitted falsified bills to a government agency totaling tens of millions of dollars. She can blow the whistle on her employer’s conduct and file a False Claims Act lawsuit, potentially recovering millions of dollars herself.
There is also a state whistleblower law in North Carolina called the North Carolina False Claims Act. This law can provide additional protection to workers, or it might be the first line of defense when federal laws do not apply.
Like the federal version, the North Carolina False Claims Act allows individuals to bring lawsuits when there has been fraud connected to state funding. Individuals can bring these claims on behalf of the state to protect the public interest and receive a percentage of any damages.
But these laws are complex, and employers often have a substantial interest in making sure that their illegal conduct never comes to light. They can exert considerable pressure on workers to prevent them from finding their voice.
How to Protect Yourself
I understand that blowing the whistle on illegal conduct in the public and private sectors is never easy. For that reason, employees would do well to fully document the suspected illegal activity. No one should steal information from an employer. However, documenting dates and times of conversations and property identifying supporting documentation bolsters a case.
Fortunately, whistleblower laws provide protection even if your suspicions are wrong and an employer is not breaking the law. Nevertheless, most laws require that workers have some reason for suspecting illegal conduct. Find documentation that backs up your hunches.
Many laws contain certain hoops a person must jump through before they obtain protection. For example, some laws require that an employee notify their employer in writing first. Failure to follow the procedure can result in loss of protection.
Call an Experienced Charlotte Whistleblower Attorney
No worker should feel pressured to participate in illegal acts. Strianese Huckert can help you navigate the complex legal landscape of whistleblower protection laws and help you protect yourself from retaliation by your employer. If you have been asked to engage in or have witnessed illegal conduct in the workplace, we encourage you to contact our Charlotte Whistleblower Attorneys today.