A whistleblower is a person who has intimate knowledge of a company or agency’s illegal wrongdoing and reports that unlawful activity to state or federal authorities. The whistleblower then becomes part of a whistleblower lawsuit and sues that party on behalf of the federal government. Typically, a whistleblower is an employee of a company, and when he or she is an employee, that employee is protected under the Kansas Whistleblower Act statute 75-2973.
The Kansas Whistleblower Act Protects Against Employer Retaliation
When an employer finds out that an employee brought the employer’s conduct to the attention of the federal government, for polluting the environment or committing fraud, for example, their first reaction may be to fire the employee. However, under state law, it is illegal for an employer to do this or to take any adverse action against an employee who has filed a whistleblower lawsuit, is part of an investigation, or has cooperated with an investigation. According to the Kansas Department of Labor, Kansas is an at-will employment state, meaning that an employer can terminate an employee for any reason unless his or her contract outlines grounds for termination or the employer engaged in discrimination. While Kansas is an at-will employment state, an employer cannot fire an employee who for a reason contrary to public policy. Public policy is a broad term, and in order to determine whether or not the firing was lawful, the court must decide whether or not public policy was evident by looking at other similar cases in the past. Generally, being part of a whistleblower lawsuit is part of public policy.
Common Types of Unlawful Retaliation Against Whistleblowers
All of the following are ways in which an employer may use their power to sway an employee from participating in a whistleblower lawsuit, from cooperating with authorities, or from filing a discrimination or harassment lawsuit:
- Terminating the employee;
- Demoting the employee;
- Reducing the employee’s pay or hours;
- Giving the employee undesirable task or hours;
- Denying a promotion for the employee;
- Harassing the employee;
- Suspending the employee; or
- Threatening the employee in any way.
When are Whistleblower (Qui Tam) Lawsuits Filed?
Whistleblower lawsuit, filed through the Federal False Claims Act, are extremely serious and often involve years of litigation and investigation into the claims of fraud by a company or organization. Whistleblower lawsuits are filed in situations such as the following:
- Medicare fraud;
- Overcharging for items or services;
- Overbilling clients;
- Misallocation of funds;
- Environmental crimes; and
- Much more.
Call the Kansas City Employment Attorneys of HKM Today
It takes a particularly brave employee to file a whistleblower lawsuit against their employer. As a reward for standing up to a large company or corporation, the claimant, or whistleblower who is filing on behalf of the federal government, is rewarded with around 15 to 25% of the lawsuit award. This can sometimes amount to hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars. If you have been terminated for filing a lawsuit or have knowledge of your employer’s wrongdoing, you need to call the Kansas City law offices of HKM Employment Attorney today.