Wrongful termination, which is sometimes called wrongful dismissal or wrongful discharge, is a situation in which an employee’s contract of employment has been terminated by the employer and the termination breaches one or more terms of the employment or a statute provision or rule in the employment laws.
If you report a violation of the law, an unethical practice, corruption, dangers to public safety, corruption, or waste of funds, you are considered to be a whistleblower. You – as a whistleblower – report these wrongdoings and illegal actions to government agency or the leaders of the company. The laws that surround whistleblowers and the protections offered them as well as retaliating against them are complex.
There is specific protocol that must be followed to file a formal complaint, and you will need to maintain supporting evidence and documentation to prove that you were a victim of wrongdoing. If you can prove that your employer knowingly and willingly broke the law, then you can have a successful claim against them and recover your lost benefits and earnings as well as any other damages that you may suffer because of their illegal actions.
How Whistleblowers Are Protected
The False Claims Act contains an anti-retaliation provision that makes it illegal for employers to retaliate against employees who participate in whistleblowing or who bring claims against their employers. Employees who can successfully prove that they are the victim of a False Claims Act retaliation are entitled to being reinstated to their position, receiving two times the amount owed of backpay, interest on any backpay they were owed, special damages, costs associated with the claim, and attorney’s fees.
Besides the False Claims Act, there are several other federal and state laws that are specific to certain industries that include provisions to protect whistleblowers from being retaliated against. You may be protected by one or more of these laws, which is why you should speak with an employment law attorney about the matter as quickly as possible if you have been the victim of whistleblowing retaliation.
What To Do If You Were Fired For Whistleblowing
If you believe that you were fired for whistleblowing, you need to maintain evidence and documentation to support your case and to help you get your claim on track in a timely manner. You will need to prove that you engaged in protected activity by alerting your employer or a government office of the wrongdoing. You must then prove that your employer knows about your protected activity and because of this protected activity you suffered an adverse action, which is basically any kind of action that was designed to punish you. In this case, it would be your termination of employment.
You will need to gather evidence showing that your employer is in violation of the laws, such as memos, emails, witness statements, digital files, and so forth. You will need to provide proof that you did whistle blow by reporting the acts to your employer or to the government agency. You should be sure to document everything, keeping track of your employer’s behavior and by detailing how they responded and how you were treated from the moment that you made the initial complaint.
Your time for pursuing a claim against your employer after being fired for whistleblowing is limited. That means that if you wait too long, you cannot pursue a claim and you will not be able to recover compensation for the damages that you suffered because of your losing your job. You should speak with an employment law attorney who is familiar with the state and federal laws that apply to your situation because whistleblowing retaliation cases are complex and require knowledge about the situation and the applicable laws.
Speak With An Employment Law Attorney
If you have been the victim of wrongful termination for whistleblowing, you should enlist the help of an employment law attorney. Talk with the attorney about his or her fees as some require an upfront retainer and others take cases on a contingency basis. To ensure that your claim is filed timely and that all supporting documentation is in order, have your case reviewed by an attorney right away.
Gather all your documentation and evidence so you can provide the details to an attorney during the initial review. A lawyer will be able to determine if you have a valid claim. Complete the Free Case Evaluation Form on this page to share the details of your wrongful termination case with a lawyer who represents wrongfully terminated workers in your area.