Whistleblowers may report work safety hazards or harassment of a coworker, which people see as the right thing to do. Some employers who violate regulations or engage in unlawful activity can retaliate. Anyone who reports dangers to an employee or legal violations of the employer is a whistleblower. The government protects whistleblowers who report illegal activity or workplace violations. Rhode Island and other states have whistleblower laws, and there are federal ones as well.
What are the federal whistleblower protection laws?
Federal and state whistleblower protection laws protect any employees who face retaliation after reporting violations or misconduct. Some federal environment whistleblower protection laws include the Toxic Substance Control Act, Clean Air Act, The Pollution Prevention Act and OSHA Whistleblower Protections. The federal laws make retaliation against an employee for reporting violations unlawful. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission protects whistleblowers from harassment and discrimination. The EEOC protection helps employees who are facing discrimination.
What are the state whistleblower laws?
Most states have whistleblower protections that make it unlawful for employers to terminate employees for reporting violations. Employees facing retaliation for reporting company misconduct should contact legal counsel as soon as possible. Many states have a time limit for filing a whistleblowing claim. A person has two years from the date of the alleged retaliation to file a general whistleblowing claim in California. Other states may have a shorter time for filing a claim, and some states include labor law violations under whistleblower protections. An employer who retaliates against an employee for minimum wage or overtime issues may be able to file a whistleblower claim to recover back pay.
There are resources a person may use after a retaliatory firing for whistleblowing. Federal and state laws protect whistleblowers, but employers will often retaliate. A wrongly terminated employee may have legal options in court after unlawful retaliation for whistleblowing.