In today’s tough economic times, “blowing the whistle” on an employer’s illegal activity can be a frightening experience, as our Lafayette whistleblower lawyers are keenly aware. You might fear that you will lose your job or be treated differently after becoming a whistleblower. Fortunately, federal and state laws provide special protections for whistleblowers and give whistleblowers a means of legal recourse for retaliation.
Broussard & David represents whistleblowers who “blow the whistle” and who subsequently experience retaliation by their employer. If you believe that your employer is partaking in illegal activity, you should seek legal advice. The whistleblower attorneys at our Lafayette firm will work with you to ensure that you understand your legal protections as a whistleblower.
By definition, a whistleblower is an employee who informs the public or government about his or her employer’s unlawful activity. A whistleblower may have various reasons for “blowing the whistle.” First, the whistleblower may report the activity to avoid breaking the law. Second, a whistleblower may feel a moral obligation to blow the whistle on his organization’s illegal activity, even if he does not partake in it. Regardless of the motivation, by law a whistleblower should not be forced to live in fear of retaliation for simply doing the right thing.
Federal and state law recognizes these concerns. Under federal law, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration ensures compliance with whistleblower protection statutes. The Occupational Safety and Health Act provides special protections for whistleblowers and prohibits discrimination or the firing of any person who has exercised his lawful right to “blow the whistle” on unlawful activity within his organization. A host of additional federal statutes ensures protection for whistleblowers. Louisiana law also provides legal protection and relief from whistleblower retaliation. Louisiana Revised Statute section 23:967, for instance, states that whistleblowers, against whom the employer has retaliated, may recover from the employer damages, reasonable attorney fees, and court costs.
The statute prohibits adverse action taken by the employer or an employee within the organization against the whistleblower. Adverse action includes:
- Failure to promote
- Failure to pay overtime
- Refusal of rightful benefits
- Failure to hire or rehire
- Intimidation or threats
- Cutting pay or hours
The adverse action must be taken by the employer because of the whistleblower’s exercise of his right to inform the public or the government of the organization’s illegal activity. A whistleblower need not have actually disclosed the misconduct in order to seek and obtain judicial relief, but one may still recover if the whistleblower merely threatened to disclose the misconduct. If you have established that you know of past or ongoing misconduct within your work and have subsequently been subject to adverse action, you may be entitled to seek judicial intervention. There are also several other federal statutes available to certain whistleblowers, depending on their employment status. State laws vary, but generally complement federal law. Our Lafayette whistleblower attorneys can explain the full scope of your rights.
If you suffered retaliation by your employer in the workplace after “blowing the whistle” on your organization’s unlawful activity, you should seek legal advice immediately. An experienced attorney can assist you in filing a claim against your employer and protecting your legal rights.
For questions, call us at 888-337-2323 (toll free) or 337-233-2323 (local). You can also contact us online for answers to your questions or to schedule your consultation with a whistleblower lawyer in Lafayette.