A whistleblower is a person who provides information or makes a report about an illegal or unethical act within an organization. Employees are protected from termination or other acts of retaliation against them because they reported alleged wrongdoing. The Pennsylvania Whistleblower Law (43 § 1423) provides protections for whistleblowers.
Pennsylvania whistleblowers are protected from retaliation by employers for taking part in a protected activity. An employer may not terminate an employee or discriminate against him or her in any way. Some of the most common types of retaliation include wage reduction, termination, changes to the condition of employment, reduction in hours, failing to promote, removing privileges or benefits, or reassignment.
In addition, an employer may not harass or threaten an employee, assault him or her, or do anything else that could be considered retaliatory. For example, an employer may try to force an employee to quit by creating uncomfortable work conditions. These actions could be considered retaliation and whistleblowers are protected from them.
Protected Employees and Actions
Some of the most common types of whistleblower actions that are protected include:
- Reporting a violation
- Causing criminal charges to be filed
- Participating with law enforcement actions relative to a report
- Filing a workers’ compensation claim
- Providing testimony at a hearing about a violation
- Filing a civil action against another party
- Testifying in front of a legislative committee
The law is in place to protect both those who make reports as well as those who participate in reports provided by others. For instance, one employee may file a report while others may be requested to testify about the company’s actions. All of the employees involved are protected.
Protections are in effect once the employee files a report or when the company is aware of the report. Also, an employee may be protected from talking about the possibility of filing a report. This is when the whistleblower status takes effect.
Help From a Pennsylvania Employment Lawyer
If you were discriminated against or were terminated because of taking part in whistleblower activities, you may be able to file a claim. The employer may be required to provide back pay, reinstate your job, or remove negative information from your employee file. Also, the company may have to pay punitive damages if they were found to have acted illegally.
In order to prove a retaliation case, you will need to show several things. First, you need to show that you suffered a negative employment action. You must also show that the negative action occurred directly after taking part in whistleblower activities. Finally, you need to show that the action was a direct result of the whistleblower actions.
Cases such as these can be complex. An employee may have previous disciplinary issues that are unrelated to the whistleblower actions. Your attorney will gather and review the information to resolve your case. If the employer took negative employee actions after learning of the employee’s participation in whistleblower activities, the employer may have acted illegally.
If you think you were discriminated against by your employer due to a whistleblower claim, contact the legal team at HKM Employment Attorneys, today to discuss your case. We can help you get the money you deserve.