A whistleblower is a person who files a lawsuit against a company on behalf of the government. Typically, the whistleblower is an employee of that company who has knowledge of the employer’s wrongdoing. The term “whistleblower” was coined by business activist Ralph Nader, who believed that people who report illegal activity should not be described with negative words such as snitch and informant. Instead, that person should be seen as a referee, who blows a whistle when a foul is made during a sports event. Because whistleblowers have great value to society by keeping large corporations in check with the law, whistleblowers are awarded certain protections against employer retaliation.
Protections for State Employees
Kansas statute 75-2973, The Kansas Whistleblower Act, prohibits employers from retaliating or taking disciplinary action against state employees who file whistleblower lawsuits against them. Employers are prohibited from denying their employees from talking to state legislatures and from reporting state or federal violations of the law, rules, or regulations. State employees can file for civil damages, including being reinstated into their old positions with their former seniority, benefits, back pay, attorney’s fees, and other damages.
Federal Law Protects all Other Employees
While Kansas has no law that protects non-state employees when it comes to whistleblowing, all other employees are protected under federal law when they file a qui tam action on behalf of the federal government. The federal Whistleblower Protection Program under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides employees immunity from employer retaliation. Employers commonly try to shut their employees up with threats or termination when the employee reports the wrongdoing of their employer, such as unsafe, unlawful, or unethical practices. You may have been fired, but you have the right to seek damages from your employer for firing you whether or not the whistleblower lawsuit succeeded or not. Similarly, these protections are given to employees who talk to federal investigators or participate in any whistleblower investigation even if they themselves were not the whistleblower.
You May be Entitled to the Following Types of Compensation for Qui Tam Action
If you file a whistleblower lawsuit under the False Claims Act, you are filling on behalf of the federal government. The False Claims Act was created in 1863 when Congress worried that private goods suppliers to the Union Army were defrauding the army during the Civil War. Any person who knowingly submitted a false claim to the government was originally held responsible for two times the government’s damages, and a $2,000 fine. The Act has been amended many times since then. If you file under the False Claims Act and are fired by a retaliatory employer, you may be entitled to the following compensation:
- Employment reinstatement;
- Back by at double rate of your normal pay; and
- Attorney fees and litigation costs.
One of Our Experienced Retaliation Attorneys is Available to Help
The Kansas City lawyers of HKM Employment Attorneys have over 40 years of experience defending employers from retaliation and wrongdoing by their employers. If you filed a whistleblower lawsuit or participated in an investigation in any way, and your employer retaliated by firing you, do not wait any longer to call us.