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Whistleblowing & Retaliation In The Workplace

If you discover that your employer has been acting in a corrupt or inappropriate manner, you may feel compelled to act. The act of informing the government of your employer’s alleged improper conduct is called whistleblowing, and it is a valuable service. But it can also lead to unfairly negative employment action against you if your employer catches wind. If you have been demoted or terminated and you believe it is due to whistleblowing activity, you may have a claim against your employer for wrongful termination.

Based On Specific Law

One reason that some people are reluctant to become whistleblowers is that they think it will essentially be their word against their employer’s. In reality, however, whistleblowers are protected by numerous laws, most notably the federal False Claims Act (FCA). The FCA and other laws like it explicitly permit a whistleblower to file what is called a qui tam suit on behalf of the government if they are aware of any conduct that breaches the FCA. Essentially, if you are aware of any false claim made to the government, you are allowed to file a suit on the government’s behalf to demonstrate its falsity.

Another reason that some people decline to speak up is that the FCA and other laws incentivize whistleblowing. They may fear that they will be painted as greedy or opportunistic rather than as someone wanting to help stop unethical conduct. However, in the majority of cases, the monetary reward is small. The law allows up to 30 percent of any recovery to be shared with the whistleblower. In most cases, that is simply not enough reason to blow the whistle. If your motives are pure, you will be listened to in most cases.

Fears Of Retaliation Are Common

Whistleblowers in South Carolina are protected both by federal law and by South Carolina’s public policy exception if they are retaliated against. South Carolina generally follows a policy of at-will employment, which means that a worker can be let go at any point, without having to show cause. However, there are exceptions to this. One such exception is referred to as the ‘public policy’ exception, which holds that a worker cannot be fired for refusing to violate public policy. This means that you cannot be fired for refusing to follow an illegal order or otherwise engaging in protected activity. 

One may wonder what “protected activity” means. It depends on which law you seek to report your employer under. Most of the time, though, any kind of proceeding designed to uphold the law or pinpoint those engaged in breaking the law will be entitled to protection under the FCA or other relevant federal law. Still, it is always a good idea to consult an experienced employment attorney before deciding to move ahead on any type of suit or proceeding.

Contact A Whistleblower Attorney Today

Deciding to become a whistleblower is not an easy decision. Sometimes, there can be unfair consequences resulting from that decision. If you believe that you have been unfairly discriminated against or have experienced negative employment action because of your involvement in a qui tam suit, calling an attorney who is well-versed in this type of case is important. Attorney A. Christopher Potts has years of experience in this area of law, and he is happy to share the knowledge gained with you.

Contact the firm of Hitchcock & Potts today to schedule an appointment.

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