Whistleblower Rights and Protections in Alabama
A whistleblower is someone who exposes the fraudulent or illegal activities of a business or organization. The typical whistleblower is a current or former employer of the company involved in the fraud. However, being a current or former employee is not a requirement if the person has true inside information of the fraud.
It is a difficult decision to come out against your own employer and inform the federal or state government about it. Such a decision will most likely have a direct impact on your employment. Your employer may terminate your job, withhold benefits, practice discrimination or persecute you in other ways. This is why it is vitally important to know the laws that will protect you if you choose to be a whistleblower.
The False Claims Act
The False Claims Act is a federal piece of legislation that offers both protection and rewards for whistleblowers. This act applies in cases where you blow the whistle on fraudulent activities that cost the federal government. For instance, the act will apply if a business files fraudulent Medicare claims to recover benefits from the federal government.
Similarly, if a company commits frauds in its contracts with the federal government, its activities can be reported to the federal government by a whistleblower. In both cases, a successful whistleblower can receive a percentage of the recovered amount as compensation for the risks undertaken. The Act also provides other provisions to make sure that the whistleblower is protected from, or compensated for, potential backlash.
Protections for Alabama State Employees
As an employer of a state agency or entity in Alabama, you can unveil any fraud or illegal activity. You may also report a violation of a rule or regulation which your employer is required to follow. In such a case, you will be protected by the State Employee Protection Act of Alabama. This act states that if you act as a whistleblower to a state entity, you can’t be discriminated against in your employment. In other words, you will receive the same wages, promotions and other benefits that you would normally receive at your job. However, Alabama does not have a State False Claims Act. Therefore, for financial fraud on the State of Alabama there is no mechanism for a whistleblower to receive a reward.
Other Protections for Whistleblowers
A number of other federal laws are in place to offer protection to whistleblowers. These include legislation such as the Sarbanes Oxley Act, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, the Consumer Protection Act and the Food Safety Modernization Act among others. Many whistleblower protections are specific to various sectors and industries. It is important to know the protections that are available to you as a whistleblower before you lodge a complaint against your employer.
Why Hire a Whistleblower Attorney?
If you have acted as a whistleblower and your employer has unfairly retaliated against you, you have the option of legal action. The time to file a lawsuit against your employer begins to run at the time of the retaliatory action and varies by the type of discrimination or retaliation against you. It is important to hire a whistleblower attorney when acting as a whistleblower or when seeking remedies against employer’s retaliatory action.
Here at Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, we have worked with whistleblowers from both public and private sectors over the years. We ensure that you seek and get the protections mandated by the law. If there is retaliatory action from your employer, we help you recover suitable compensatory damages. Contact us today for a FREE consultation to discuss your case with our whistleblower attorneys.