Whistleblower-Retaliation

Attorneys

Wayne N. Outten

Chair
New York Office

Tammy Marzigliano

Partner
New York Office

I. Whistleblower Rewards and Protection

Outten & Golden’s Whistleblower & Retaliation Practice Group consists of experienced whistleblower attorneys working to protect employees from employer retaliation. We counsel and represent individuals who have reported or are considering reporting fraud, misconduct, discrimination, or other violations of law to their employers, regulators, or the government.

A. Laws that protect whistleblowers

There are many federal and state laws that protect whistleblowers from retaliation, with governments at all levels passing new laws each year to incentivize and protect people who speak out against wrongdoing. An experienced whistleblower attorney at Outten & Golden may be able to help you understand your rights.

1. Federal whistleblower protections

-       The Federal False Claims Act prohibits retaliation against employees who blow the whistle on government fraud by their employers. You do not necessarily have to report to the government to be entitled to these protections. The law also includes potential rewards for whistleblowers who do report to the government by filing qui tam (whistleblower) lawsuits against companies that defraud the government.

-       The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act established the SEC Whistleblower Program and the CFTC Whistleblower Program. The law prohibits employers from retaliating against whistleblowers who report fraud to the Securities & Exchange Commission or the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. There are also rules that prohibit anyone from impeding your reporting violations to either the SEC or CFTC. You may also be eligible for a reward for reporting securities or commodities fraud in certain circumstances.

-       The Sarbanes-Oxley Act prohibits retaliation against employees and contractors of publicly traded companies who report violations of SEC rules or regulations or fraud against shareholders.

-       The Taxpayer First Act prohibits retaliation against employees who provide information to their supervisors or to the government regarding underpayment of taxes or violations of tax fraud laws.

-       The Anti-Money Laundering Act prohibits retaliation against employees who report potential money laundering violations either to their supervisors or to the government.

-       Many other federal laws protect private sector and government employees for blowing the whistle on activities that threaten public health, food and drug safety, the environment, nuclear safety, and much more.

2. State whistleblower protections

-       Many states, including California, New York, New Jersey, Washington D.C., and others, have False Claims Acts that largely mirror the Federal False Claims Act and protect employees from retaliation for blowing the whistle on fraud against state governments. These laws also include potential rewards for whistleblowers who file qui tam (whistleblower) law suits against companies that defraud state governments.

-       In addition to the California False Claims Act, which prohibits retaliation against whistleblowers who report fraud against the California state government, California has numerous whistleblower protection laws, including:

o   California Labor Code § 1102.5, which protects employees from retaliation for reporting violations of laws or regulations, for raising concerns about employee safety or health, or for reporting unsafe working conditions;

o   California Health and Safety Code § 1278, which prohibits health facilities from discriminating or retaliating against patients, employees, medical staff, or other healthcare workers who file reports about the health facility or who cooperate in investigations related to quality of care, services, or conditions at the facility; and

o   California Business & Professions Code §§ 510 and 2056, which prohibit retaliation against healthcare practitioners, physicians, and surgeons who advocate for appropriate healthcare for their patients.

-       In addition to the New York False Claims Act, which prohibits retaliation against whistleblowers who report fraud against the New York State government, New York Labor Law Section 740 also gives broad protections for employee whistleblowers and prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who disclose violations of laws, rules, or regulations, or activities, policies, or practices of an employer that poses a substantial and specific danger to the public health or safety.

-       In addition to the New Jersey False Claims Act, which prohibits retaliation against whistleblowers who report fraud against the New Jersey State government, New Jersey’s Conscientious Employee Protection Act, also known as the New Jersey Whistleblower Act, prohibits retaliation against employees who disclose violations of laws, rules, or regulations. The NJ CEPA also protects health care whistleblowers who raise concerns about patient care and individuals who raise concerns about securities violations.

II. How Outten & Golden advocates for and represents whistleblowers

Outten & Golden attorneys are experienced in advising employees on how to blow the whistle on wrongdoing and in working with whistleblowers who have already reported fraud and been retaliated against.

A. Before blowing the whistle

Many of the laws that protect whistleblowers have certain requirements that must be met to either qualify for a reward or for retaliation protection. For example, some laws require whistleblowers to report to their supervisors and offer their company an opportunity to correct its misconduct, while others do not. Some laws restrict the types of employees or contractors that can act as whistleblowers, while others do not. Outten & Golden attorneys advise employees who consult us before they report illegal conduct on the best way to make the report and what to expect afterwards. 

B. After blowing the whistle

Many whistleblowers who report their concerns to their employers or to the government are retaliated against by their employers. Retaliation can take many forms, including termination, demotion, harassment, sidelining, defamation, and more. Outten & Golden attorneys are experienced in representing employees whose employers retaliate against them for whistleblowing and recovering awards for whistleblowers. 

 

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