Generally, people have an unspoken duty to call out unethical or illegal behavior. However, if an employee finds out that their employer is acting in an illegal or unethical manner, it can be a difficult decision as to whether they should blow the whistle—the employee’s livelihood may, after all, be at stake. If you’re in a position where you are debating becoming a whistleblower, it is crucial to understand the law surrounding the issue before moving forward.
Blowing The Whistle
If you believe that your employer has acted illegally or unethically, you can report them to either the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing, and Registration (LLR) or to the U.S. Justice Department if you think a federal law, such as the U.S. Federal Civil False Claims Act, has been breached. One of the reasons why an attorney is so crucial for this type of lawsuit is because, at times, it can be difficult to determine which agency is best to contact.
Becoming a whistleblower, also called a relator, means that you may be eligible for a small share of any reward the government recoups, though it is not easy. If you decide to blow the whistle on your employer’s inappropriate conduct, you are protected by both South Carolina and federal law. South Carolina law explicitly states that employees shall not be discriminated against for filing complaints or complying with the law, and also grants the right to file a complaint in reply to any retaliation or discrimination. However, the law does not always stop some employers.
If you have decided to blow the whistle on your employer, you are protected from retaliation, but it may happen anyway. South Carolina forbids discharge or discrimination against an employee if the employee has done any of the following:
- Filed a complaint
- Initiated any kind of regulatory proceedings
- Testifies at a proceeding about “statutes, rules, or regulations” related to workplace safety or health
If any of these things happen to you, state law gives you the right to file suit against your employer in the appropriate court.
You do have the potential to be rehired (if the court finds it appropriate) or recover back pay, among other potential remedies. However, the odds of prevailing in a qui tam case, especially without a lawyer, are slim. Enlisting an attorney improves the odds that you will be able to recover from your employer’s unjust actions—you should never be penalized for doing the right thing.
Contact An Experienced South Carolina Attorney
Employers should act ethically, but if they do not, employees can try to make it right. Whistleblowers are protected from suffering retaliation by law. The South Carolina employment discrimination attorneys at the firm of Hitchcock & Potts are ready to assist you with your case. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.