Birmingham Whistleblower Attorneys
What do you do if you get wind that your company or employer is involved in some unlawful or dangerous activities? Whether you’re a private citizen or an employee of the said company, if you have material information regarding an individual or organization defrauding the public or a government entity, you can lodge, as highlighted by the False Claims Act, a lawsuit against this individual or organization. This suit is often referred to as a qui tam action or suit and provides financial incentives to whistleblowers.
What happens after whistleblowing? Is your employee retaliating against you for whistleblowing? State and federal laws protect private citizens and employees who report suspicious, unethical, or illegal activity conducted in their workplace or by their employers. Whistleblowers are often forced to fight uphill battles to protect themselves from employer retaliation, all the while doing what is right.
That’s precisely why you must have the best possible representation from your attorney when the case goes to trial. Our whistleblower attorneys can help if you want to file a qui tam lawsuit or want to fight employer retaliation for whistleblowing. At Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, we represent whistleblowers from all walks of life. Contact our firm today at 855-965-1688 or online.
- 1 What Is a Whistleblower?
- 2 Alabama Whistleblower Protection Laws
- 2.1 Laws Specifically Protecting Whistleblowers Who Are State Employees
- 2.2 Laws That Protect Workplace Discrimination Whistleblowers
- 2.3 Laws That Protect Whistleblowers for Reporting Safety Issues in the Workplace
- 2.4 Statutes Shielding Whistleblowers Who Disclose Wrongdoing in Other Areas
- 2.5 Child Labor Laws
- 2.6 Public-Policy
- 3 Federal False Claims Act
- 4 The Whistleblower Process
- 5 Can an Employer Punish a Whistleblower?
- 6 Legal Options If You Experience Employer Retaliation
- 7 What Benefits Can I Get After a Successful Retaliation and Whistleblowing Claim?
- 8 Contact a Whistleblower Attorney Today
- 9 Whistleblower / Qui Tam FAQs
What Is a Whistleblower?
A whistleblower is an individual who shares or comes out with knowledge about a department’s or an organization’s wrongdoing. A whistleblower can report illegal activities like dangers to public safety and health, fraud, abuse, or corruption to a person or an organization that is in a position to act on the wrongdoers. Typically, whistleblowers are people who are affiliated with the organization that is conducting illegal activities like employees, suppliers, or contractors. Whistleblowers reveal information that would have otherwise remained in the dark.
Whistleblowers can trigger investigations against a company, organization, department, or individual by filing a lawsuit or registering a complaint with relevant authorities.
A whistleblower can either be internal or external. Individuals who report unlawful or dangerous activities to internal authorities like the CEO or the head of HR are known as internal whistleblowers. On the other hand, external whistleblowers disclose illegal activities to external entities like the media, police, anti-corruption agencies, or high-ranking government officials.
Did you know that since 1986, more than $4 billion has been paid to whistleblowers by the U.S. government? Don’t suffer at your place of work in silence! Give our Birmingham whistleblowers attorneys a call today.
Alabama Whistleblower Protection Laws
There are specific laws that protect whistleblowers from mistreatment or getting sacked. Every state in the U.S has its own whistleblower statutes or, in simpler terms, whistleblower protection laws. These statutes protect whistleblowers by prohibiting their employers from striking back for revealing their dangerous or unlawful practices. The whistleblower statutes’ goal is to protect employees from illegal or unfair dismissal, demotion, or any other kind of unlawful punishment that an employer might decide to mete out. They include:
Laws Specifically Protecting Whistleblowers Who Are State Employees
The State Employment Protection Act of Alabama forbids supervisors from transferring, demoting, discharging, or discriminating against a state employee in regards to the employee’s terms, conditions, compensation, or employment privileges if the employee whistle blows in an affidavit or under oath, an infringement of a regulation, rule, or law.
This statute authorizes employers to pay whistleblowers where appropriate, compensatory damages, front wages, and back wages or a combination of any of these.
Laws That Protect Workplace Discrimination Whistleblowers
This statute shields employees from employer retaliation for speaking out against age discrimination in the workplace. It also protects employees from retaliation of employers for participating, helping, or testifying in an investigation, making a charge, hearing, or proceeding under the law concerning age discrimination in Alabama.
Laws That Protect Whistleblowers for Reporting Safety Issues in the Workplace
This law protects all employees from employer retaliation for filing a written notice of a safety rule violation or an employee’s compensation claim. This statute authorizes punitive and compensatory damages as remedies.
Statutes Shielding Whistleblowers Who Disclose Wrongdoing in Other Areas
This statute protects all employees from being discharged, demoted, transferred, or discriminated against in terms of employee benefits, compensation, terms, or conditions for filing a compensation claim or a notice of a safety rule infringement. The remedies authorized by this state are compensatory and punitive damages.
Child Labor Laws
Child labor laws prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who oppose the infringement of child labor laws.
Alabama is among the few states that stringently follow the at-will employment doctrine. This law allows employers to discharge or change the employment of an at-will employee for any or no reason unless the reason in question violates a public-policy exception.
Federal False Claims Act
A majority of Alabama’s whistleblower protection laws at the state level apply to public employees. Even so, some federal protections are afforded to whistleblowers who report their companies for defrauding the government. As per the Federal False Claims Act, whistleblowers are allowed to file a “qui tam action” to protect them from employer retaliation. Under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, whistleblowers are shielded from shareholders, securities, and other fraud cases.
The Whistleblower Process
Whistleblowing is never an easy decision. It can be frustrating to file a whistleblower claim only to have it dismissed because you missed a few crucial steps or details. If a whistleblower claim is filed correctly, not only can it yield substantial rewards, but it can also stop actions that may endanger public welfare. You must follow the right steps in lodging a whistleblower claim in Alabama under any whistleblower law, such as the Dodd-Frank Act. Below are the steps our Birmingham whistleblower attorneys at Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton recommend to clients want to do what’s right and bring a qui tam issue to light:
Step 1: Evidence Gathering
Gathering evidence is the most crucial stage of the whistleblowing process. Whistleblowers, together with an experienced lawyer, need to gather substantial evidence before reporting to the relevant authorities. However, there are many legal risks involved in the collection of evidence. Some methods of gathering evidence can put an employee in a position where the employer can take adverse actions against them.
A whistleblower can gather evidence by collecting documents, recording videos, taking photos whenever they see unsafe or suspicious activities at work, and recording work conversations. Documentary evidence may include billing records, test results, internal studies, and emails. Your claim will hold more water with the support of this evidence. Keep in mind that your case has a better chance of succeeding if you have more evidence. However, employees should be careful not to breach any laws when collecting evidence. Employers can and are well within their rights to sue employees who gather evidence unlawfully.
Step 2: Evidence Presentation
As per the False Claims Act, a whistleblower is required to file a complaint in court and submit the same to the government with a Disclosure Statement with details of the alleged wrongdoing attached. However, before whistleblowers can file a claim, they have to meet up with the relevant government agency to convince them that your evidence is substantial.
Step 3: Government Investigation
A government investigation is the longest part of the whistleblowing process. During investigations, everything is kept secret, including the identity of the whistleblower and the investigation itself. The government may interview the whistleblower along with other involved witnesses during this time. The complaint is concealed for 60 days lest the government requests for an extension. The FBI may be brought in the case if the claim is found to have any criminal violations. The whistleblower must cooperate and be available to assist in investigations.
Step 4: The Government Chooses Whether or Not to Go to Trial
The government may ask the whistleblower to testify in front of a jury if the case is taken to trial. Only at this point will the government reveal your identity. In all the False Claims Act cases that the government gets involved in, about 90% are successful.
If the government fails to get involved, the whistleblower cases’ success rate tends to decrease significantly. Support or intervention from the government makes these cases shorter and less expensive.
Can an Employer Punish a Whistleblower?
Employees are afforded immunity from being punished by their employers for reporting certain unlawful activities. Some laws, like the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which was passed in 2002, covers whistleblower protection statutes for workers or employees who disclose shareholder fraud and financial irregularities.
Legal Options If You Experience Employer Retaliation
You could engage your supervisor or employer in a legal battle if they retaliated against you for disclosing their wrongdoings. Your employer can retaliate by firing or demoting you. Our lawyers at Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton are experienced and knowledgeable about whistleblowing and retaliation cases. We suggest that you:
Meet a Lawyer Today
Claims dealing with retaliation or whistleblowing can sometimes be very tricky since the laws vary from one state to another. A knowledgeable lawyer can help you establish whether your claim is viable in regards to a non-observance of public policy or a particular statute.
For your first meeting, prepare a chronology of events that led you to seek legal action. What triggered your report or complaint, when you reported, and what happened after you reported. You must prove that your employer acted against you for whistleblowing. Timing is of the essence. Your claim is stronger if the time between your complaint and your employer retaliating is short.
Our highly trained lawyers will help you assess all the facts on the table, the potential claims, and estimate your claims’ worthiness in terms of money. On top of that, our attorneys will advise you on the alternatives you have. I.e., whether you should negotiate with your employer, file a retaliation complaint, or go to court.
File a Retaliation Complaint
Some claims require you to file a complaint with a federal agency. For instance, if you are suing for wrongful termination in violation of whistleblower protection laws, you must first approach the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to file a complaint.
This rule doesn’t apply to all retaliation claims. Whistleblower attorneys at Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton can help you determine what your particular claim or state requires.
What Benefits Can I Get After a Successful Retaliation and Whistleblowing Claim?
The compensation you get for winning a retaliation or whistleblowing case is determined by how strong your claims are. Typically, employees who win wrongful termination cases ask to:
- Be refunded all the wages or salaries they missed for being wrongfully fired (back pay)
- Be given their job back(reinstatement) or give you the wages you stand to lose before you find another job (front pay)
- Any expenses you encountered as a result of being fired like the money you spent on finding a new job (out-of-pocket losses)
- Court and attorney fees
- A qui tam action provides a financial incentive to whistleblowers
In some instances, your employer can compensate you for the emotional pain and suffering you have endured for their retaliatory actions.
Contact a Whistleblower Attorney Today
Have you witnessed some unlawful or dangerous activities in your workplace or company? Has your boss, supervisor, or employer retaliated against you for speaking out? We provide expert legal services concerned with whistleblowing and retaliation. Call 855-965-1688 to get in touch with Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton whistleblower attorneys today.
Whistleblower / Qui Tam FAQs