If you have discovered wrongdoing by your employer, you have the ability to file what is known as a whistleblower claim. Many whistleblowers face illegal retaliation, termination, and other adverse employment actions, but an experienced employment lawyer can protect you and your interests throughout your case. To learn more about how to make a whistleblower claim in the Baltimore area, call or contact HKM Employment Attorneys, LLP today to schedule a consultation.
What is a Whistleblower Claim?
A whistleblower claim is a formal claim, submission, or complaint that alleges certain types of fraud or other misconduct perpetrated by an employer. In many cases, the fraud occurs against the government, but whistleblower cases can cover almost any type of illegal activity. Examples of whistleblower claims include defrauding Medicare or Medicaid, fraud related to military contracts, illegal dumping of toxic waste, accounting fraud, and more. Both state and federal laws exist to protect and reward employees who come forward with whistleblower claims against their employers.
Maryland Whistleblower Claims
Maryland has many different types of whistleblower acts for specific industries. It is important that you speak with an experienced employment attorney prior to filing a claim to ensure that you fall under the protections of one of these laws before disclosing your claims of illegal activity by your employer. Whistleblower acts in Maryland include the following:
Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act
This law covers all public sector employees and private sector employees who work for an employer that has 15 or more employees for each working day for 20 or more weeks in the current or preceding calendar year. Whistleblowers who make a claim, testify, assist, or participate in an investigation related to prohibited discrimination by their employer, or opposed any prohibited discrimination by their employer, and then suffered discrimination or retaliation from the employer, are protected by this law.
For the purposes of this law, prohibited discrimination refers to an employer refusing to hire, firing, or otherwise engaging in adverse employment actions against employees due to their actual or perceived protected characteristics. This includes their actual or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, color, age, marital status, sexual orientation, disability, genetic information, or gender identity.
Maryland Occupational Safety and Health Act
Almost any Maryland employee is protected under the Maryland OSHA Act except for federal employees and workers who fall under specific mining, longshoring, and atomic energy laws. Whistleblowers who file a complaint, bring an action, or testify in a proceeding regarding the occupational health and safety of the workplace and were fired or otherwise discriminated against are protected under this law.
State Contractor Employees’ Whistleblower Protection
Employees whose employer has a contract or subcontract to provide supplies or services to a State of Maryland executive branch entity are covered by this law. However, it does not apply to construction, architectural, engineering, or energy performance services. Whistleblowers who report an abuse of authority, gross mismanagement, gross waste of money, a substantial or specific danger to public health and safety, or illegal acts by their employer are protected who suffer an adverse employment action as a result. Whistleblowers who objected to or refused to participate in any illegal activity by their employer and suffered reprisal as a result are also protected.
Executive Employees Whistleblower Protection Act
Maryland state employees within the executive branch or state employees who have applied to a position within the executive branch are covered by this act. Whistleblowers who suffer adverse employment actions because they reported what they reasonably believe to be evidence of abuse of power, gross waste of money, a specific danger to public health and safety, or violations of the law are protected. However, the whistleblower must have made the disclosure to someone of a higher authority who had the power to correct the wrongdoing and that the adverse employment action was a contributing factor to the adverse employment action.
Public School Employee Whistleblower Protection Act
Employees of any county board of education or the Baltimore City equivalent are protected under this law unless they are also a state employee. These workers are protected if they report in writing to a supervisor evidence of possible illegal acts, violations of rules or regulations, abuse of authority, gross mismanagement, gross waste of money, or a specific and substantial threat to public health or safety.
The employee must give their employer a reasonable amount of time to correct the issue and suffer an adverse employment action because they disclosed or threatened to disclose to a supervisor the wrongful acts, provided information or testified before a public body investigating the violations, or refused to participate in the illegal acts perpetrated by the employer.
Health Care Workers Whistleblowers Protection Act
Finally, this act protects any Maryland licensed or board certified healthcare worker, excluding state employees. Whistleblowers who report in writing to a supervisor their belief in violations of law, rules, or regulations that pose a threat to public health and safety, provided time for their employers to fix the issue, and suffered an adverse employment action are protected by this law. Whistleblowers who followed their employer’s corporate compliance plan that specifies who to report these issues to that suffers adverse employment actions are also protected under this act.
Compensation for Whistleblower Claims
Whistleblowers are entitled to compensation for reporting violations or illegal acts as well as additional damages if their employer engaged in adverse employment actions against them as a result. Whistleblowers typically collect anywhere between 15% and 30% of any money recovered by the government as a result of their claims. They may also collect damages from their employer that include back pay, benefits, reinstatement, and more if their employer fired, demoted, or otherwise retaliated against them for their whistleblowing against the company.
Contact a Baltimore Whistleblower Lawyer Today
Do you believe that you have knowledge of illegal or unethical activity being perpetrated by your employer in the Baltimore area? If so, you may have a valid whistleblower claim. To learn more about your legal options for filing a whistleblower claim in Maryland, call the office or contact us today at HKM Employment Attorneys, LLP to schedule an evaluation of your case.