There are certain times where an employee may have to make a difficult choice in terms of whether or not to remain with an employer, especially if there is the possibility of illegal activity going on. If you have decided to act as a whistleblower, there are laws in place to protect you. But if an employer is unethical enough to violate workplace laws to begin with, they may choose to retaliate against you for speaking up. If you face retaliation after filing a whistleblower suit, consulting an experienced attorney is crucial.
Blowing The Whistle
Blowing the whistle is an intimidating prospect. The most common illegal activity that is reported in this day and age is the alleged misuse of federal funds. The federal False Claims Act allows anyone with enough evidence of fraud against federal agencies or programs to file suit on behalf of the U.S. government, in what is known as a qui tam lawsuit. The government may join your suit, but even if it does not, you can continue the suit if enough evidence exists. If the suit is successful, a whistleblower will receive a small portion of the settlement money.
Employees cannot be terminated in response to filing complaints or informing on their employer’s illegal activity. However, many employers try to find sub rosa ways to do it anyway, retaliating with negative employment action or even termination. South Carolina is an at-will state, meaning that in most situations, an employee can be terminated at any time, for any reason. However, there are certain exceptions to the doctrine, one of which is called the public policy exception. It would shock the conscience of the public for an employee to be terminated for doing the right thing, and thus, employees can file a charge of retaliation to set things right.
Filing A Charge
If you believe that you have been the victim of retaliation from your employer, you may file a charge with either the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing & Regulation (DLLR) or with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Either of these bodies will initiate an investigation into the validity of your claims, and may try to mediate between you and your employer, if the situation merits it. Acting as a whistleblower is protected activity, and if the investigation finds that there are grounds to suspect retaliation, you stand to potentially recover both your job and up to twice any back pay owed.
While the law is clear-cut, it may be difficult to establish that the treatment you experienced was discriminatory—sometimes it is difficult to read intent or reconcile timing. If you have questions, it can be easy to give up, but a better idea is to seek the advice of a legal professional. An attorney can try to answer your questions and eliminate any concerns about going forward. You have the right to speak up and to protest treatment that you believe is unfair.
Call A South Carolina Employment Discrimination Attorney
Blowing the whistle on your employer is often the right thing to do, and you do not deserve poor treatment as a result. If you believe that you are experiencing retaliation after filing a whistleblower suit, a South Carolina employment discrimination attorney may be able to assist you. Attorney A. Christopher Potts and the firm of Hitchcock & Potts have been handling these matters for a long time. Contact our office today to speak to an attorney.