So You Think You Might Be A Whistle Blower? Do The Right Thing The Right Way.
What Is A Whistle Blower?
In general, we use the term whistleblower to refer to a person who exposes any kind of illegal or unethical conduct within a public or private entity. Whistleblowers are important to society because they have the inside information on the bad actions of the organization and it would often be impossible for law enforcement to find, stop and punish illegal activity without the information coming from whistleblowers. Just to give you an idea of the importance of private individual whistleblowers – even with the massive law enforcement and investigation resources of the federal government, most of the federal government contractor fraud we catch is the result of legal actions taken by whistleblowers.
But unfortunately, doing the right thing and exposing illegal activity sometimes comes with a price. The people or entities whose bad deeds are getting exposed often think they can cover up the problem by intimidating, discrediting, or firing the whistleblower. Sometimes the people whose wrongs get exposed are just angry and want revenge against the person who accused them. We call this all whistleblower retaliation. Many whistleblowers suffer tremendous personal and professional damage because they choose to do the right thing.
Because of the important and necessary positive role that whistleblowers play in our society, federal and state legislatures have passed laws to protect whistleblowers from retaliation by their employers. What is important to understand is that these laws are not perfect. Not all whistleblowing is legally protected. So it is much better for a potential whistleblower to get some legal advice before blowing the whistle. That way, they can make sure they are doing the right thing the right way so they can maintain maximum legal protections
How Does The Law Protect Whistle Blowers From Retaliation?
The laws protecting whistleblowers focus for the most part on protecting their employment rights. This is because the most common source of inside whistleblower information comes from employees, and a potential whistleblower employee is very vulnerable to retaliation from their employer who controls their livelihood.
In Louisiana, whistleblower protection comes from federal or state statutes. The statutes define what types of whistleblower conduct is protected against retaliation. There are two important aspects of each statute that you have to consider: First, you need to consider the underlying bad action you are considering blowing the whistle on and find a statute that protects whistleblowers who expose that particular action. For instance, there is a statutory whistleblower protection within the Clean Water Act for people who expose Clean Water Act violations. But that statute usually will not protect a whistleblower that exposes a violation of the Solid Waste Disposal Act. So you need to find the right whistleblower statute for the underlying legal violation. And unfortunately, there is not always a statute that provides protection.
Second, different whistleblower protection statutes protect different types of whistleblowing actions. The most important distinction here is that some statutes protect employees who raise concerns internally within the company for example by telling supervisors or managers that something the company is doing is illegal — and other statutes only provide protection for complaints made to law enforcement or a particular government agency. Most whistleblower protection laws protect people who blow the whistle on an act that they believe in good faith to be a violation of the law – so even if the employee is technically wrong about the existence of a legal violation the statute still protects them when they speak out. Louisiana’s general whistleblower statute does not provide this protection. It only protects whistleblowing if the whistleblower proves an actual violation of the law.
So the important thing to realize is that there are a lot of whistleblower protections out there, but not every type of complaint about every type of possibly illegal action is going to be protected. There has to be a statute that fits the particular situation and the whistleblower’s actions have to be protected under the statute.
For more information on Whistle Blowers In Louisiana, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (504) 300-0071 today.
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