Many people fear to report any wrongdoing happening in their places of work due to the fear of retaliation from their employers. However, did you know that the laws that protect workers against discrimination, health and safety, and wage and hour protection laws also protect you against employer retaliation?
In Virginia, it is illegal for an employer to retaliate against whistleblowers who report wrongdoing or misconduct. In these situations, employers aren’t allowed to fire, threaten, or discriminate against whistleblowers. The law protecting workers is called The Fraud and Abuse Whistle Blower Protection Act. It lets whistleblowers file qui tam cases in Virginia.
HKM Employment Attorneys LLP can handle whistleblower claims for clients in Northern Virginia, including Arlington, McLean, Tysons Corner, Alexandria, and Fairfax County.
Laws that Protect Whistleblowers
You are considered a whistleblower if you report any information that suggests your employer is violating the law, or is engaging in activities that put public health and safety at risk. Such an action may result in your employer retaliating. Fortunately, several federal and state laws protect whistleblowers if the need arises. Some of these laws include:
- Energy Reorganization Act: it protects you if you disclose about nuclear safety or if Nuclear Regulatory Commission rules have been violated
- Whistleblower Protection Act: it protects whistleblowers working for the federal government
- False Claims Act and NDAA: protects you if work for a federal contractor
- Surface Transportation Assistance Act: it protects whistleblowers in the trucking industry who disclose about the safety of commercial motor vehicles
Differentiating Between Whistleblowing and Retaliation Claims
Although whistleblowing and retaliation are often used interchangeably, their claims are handled differently. Whistleblower laws ensure that the general public is protected against safety violations. Its primary focus includes public safety, government or investor transparency, and environmental safety.
Retaliation claims focus on protecting you against any form of punishment, demotion or firing by your employer. These laws are put in place to ensure that you don’t shy off from reporting your employer, co-worker or your company. Anti-retaliation laws ensure that your hours or salary aren’t reduced. They also make sure you don’t lose your benefits or get fired when you report something illegal happening in your organization.
Who Sets the Whistleblower Protection Laws?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets whistleblower protection laws. It’s a federal agency under the Department of Labor. OSHA laws protect individuals who report any form of abuse happening in companies and corporations at the federal level. OSHA laws protect you if you disclose a violation of public safety, environmental abuse, wrongful spending of tax money, fraud, and breach of public trust in the government.
Whistleblowing at the federal level is mostly done to ensure transparency and public safety. When you file this kind of complaint, OSHA laws ensures your anonymity. You can also request OSHA to carry out an investigation or inspection to unearth any compliance violations.
Your employer can retaliate in different ways including but not limited to firing you or overlooking you whenever a promotion opportunity occurs. You can build a retaliation case by documenting everything including the names, dates, and types of violations experienced.
If you feel that you need a whistleblower and retaliation protection in Arlington, Virginia, please call our law firm for a consultation. We will provide you with legal advice from an experienced whistleblower lawyer.