Whistleblower Retaliation and Whistleblower Protection Lawyers in Nashville
Individuals who learn of illegal or unethical behavior in business or government may wish to report their concerns to the authorities. This act is called whistleblowing.
Historically, whistleblowers have been at risk of retaliation from those they’ve reported, especially if they blow the whistle on their employers or another party in a position of influence over them. However, federal and state laws protect whistleblowers, and the consequences of breaking those laws can be severe.
Understanding your legal rights is critical if you wish to report improper or illegal activity by your employer or another party. You also need to know what to do if you experience retaliation for your actions. A Nashville whistleblower protection lawyer from the Employment and Commerce Law Group can explain your rights and represent you if you suffered retaliation after speaking out.
Our proven whistleblower law firm will work aggressively to remedy adverse actions that you experienced by exercising your rights. Call or contact us today for a free consultation.
Which Laws Protect Whistleblowers from Retaliation?
Numerous federal laws protect whistleblowers in a wide range of industries and circumstances, including the following:
- Whistleblower Protection Act – For federal employees who disclose information on federal agencies
- False Claims Act – Allows individuals to report fraudulent or wasteful claims made against federal government resources (e.g., federal contracts or programs like Medicare)
- Sarbanes-Oxley Act – Protects whistleblowers who report violations of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rules and acts of securities, mail, wire, or bank fraud
- Taxpayer First Act – For those who expose tax fraud or underpayment
- Dodd-Frank Act – Provides incentives for individuals to report securities violations or bribes to the SEC and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)
- Energy Reorganization Act – Protects whistleblowing in the nuclear energy industry
- Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act – For whistleblowing in aviation safety
- Surface Transportation Assistance Act – Protects whistleblowers in the commercial trucking industry
- Consumer Financial Protection Act – For whistleblowing in the consumer financial and banking industries
- Federal Railroad Safety Act – Protects whistleblowers in the rail industry
- National Transit Systems Security Act – For transit employees who disclose safety or security issues
- Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act – Protects individuals who report consumer goods manufacturers who violate safety standards
- Food Safety Modernization Act – For whistleblowers in the food industry
In addition, several Tennessee statutes also provide whistleblower protections, including:
- State Workers – Whistleblower protections for state officials and employees (Tenn. Code §8-50-116)
- Tennessee False Claims Act – Protects whistleblowers who disclose information of a business or individual who knowingly submits a false claim to the state for payment (Tenn. Code Ann. § 4-18-101 to 44-18-108)
- Tennessee Medicaid False Claims Act – Shields whistleblowers from retaliation for reporting fraudulent claims to Tennessee’s Medicaid program (Tenn. Code Ann §§ 71-5-181 to 71-5-185)
- Education Truth in Reporting and Employee Protection Act of 1989 – Shields anyone with “a knowing or willing falsification” or “waste or mismanagement” of public education funds (Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-50-1408)
- Employer and Employee Relationship – Prohibits retaliation or termination for refusing to participate in illegal activities (Tenn. Code Ann. § 50-1-304)
Who is Covered by Whistleblower Protection Laws?
State and federal whistleblower protection laws cover specific categories of individuals who are likely to engage in whistleblowing activity. These may include:
- Government and public agency employees
- State or federal contractors
- Healthcare professionals
- Corporate employees
- Transportation workers
- Professional service providers such as lawyers, accountants, or financial analysts/planners
Establishing Precedents in Whistleblower Protection
Formal whistleblower laws stretch back to the Civil War with the passage of the federal False Claims Act, which was adopted to combat fraud by defense contractors. However, the law provided few (if any) protections for whistleblowers in other industries. It was followed in 1912 by the Lloyd-La Follette Act, which protected certain federal employees from retaliation after reporting information to Congress.
Modern whistleblower protection laws date to the late 1970s and 1980s, with the landmark Whistleblower Protection Act passing in 1989. The federal government enacted several laws in the 2000s in response to unethical and unlawful corporate practices that preceded the Great Recession.
Damages or Remedies in Whistleblower Retaliation Cases
By filing a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit, you could obtain financial compensation and other legal relief. Potential remedies available in whistleblower claims include:
- Lost wages or income, including reimbursement for lost job benefits, denied raises, demotions, or termination
- Reinstatement to a position if you were wrongfully terminated
- Front pay, or compensation for lost employment or business opportunities if reinstatement is impractical
- Compensation for reputational damage caused by retaliatory behavior
- Emotional harm
- Reimbursement for legal fees
In addition, certain whistleblower statutes may entitle you to a percentage of the financial recovery obtained by the federal or state government in a False Claims Act lawsuit.
Tips to Remedy Whistleblower Retaliation
Organizations and agencies should promote a culture that encourages workers to speak up when they notice improper or potentially unlawful activities. Agencies should also:
- Implement independent reporting and resolution systems for allegations of retaliatory behavior
- Educate workers and contractors about their rights under internal policies and federal and state law
- Educate management on their legal obligations
- Evaluate and independently audit the effectiveness of an implemented speak-up culture
If you’re considering whether to make a whistleblower claim, think carefully before using internal reporting systems. In organizations without a strong emphasis on internal accountability, using internal systems to blow the whistle may cause you to become the target of retaliation from peers or middle management, not just upper management.
Contact a Whistleblower Lawyer Today
You need an attorney if you’re the target of whistleblower retaliation in Nashville. Reach out to the Employment and Commerce Law Group today. We focus exclusively on worker and consumer rights. We won’t let Big Business intimidate or discount legitimate claims. Call or contact us today for a free case review.