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Florida Whistleblower Act Lawyer

How it Provides Protection for Employees Who Blow the Whistle

Do you need to blow the whistle on illegal conditions or actions by an employer? Do you know what protections you have or what to expect? If you don’t, you may need the help of a whistleblower lawyer.

Before you blow the whistle, it can help you to understand the Florida laws that are involved. In this guide, you will learn what whistleblowing is and two main pieces of legislation that protect whistleblowers.

You’ll also learn what to expect when you blow the whistle, how you’re protected, and what to do if you face retaliation.

What We Will Be Covered In This Guide

  • What is Whistleblowing?
  • Does Florida Have Whistleblower Laws?
    • The Florida Whistleblower Act (Title X 112.3187)
    • Other Protections: The Florida Act (Title XXXI 448.102)
  • Implications of Whistleblowing
  • How Does the Florida Whistleblowing Act Protect Employees?
    • Remedies under The Florida Whistleblower Act
    • Types of Relief that a Whistleblower May Seek
  • How to File a Whistleblower Claim

What is Whistleblowing?

Whistleblowing is the act of exposing information about illegal or abusive practices by public or private organizations. The people who expose these practices are known as whistleblowers, and they have protected status under the law when exposing certain types of information.

The laws regarding whistleblowing vary from state to state. Florida laws define specific types of information that may be exposed and provides protection for publicly or privately employed employees in the state.

Does Florida Have Whistleblower Laws?

Yes, Florida has two main statutes that protect public and private employees, respectively. The first is The Florida Whistleblower Act. However, private employees are protected by a second law: The Florida Act.

The Florida Whistleblower Act: Title X 112.3187

The first statute, Title X 112.3187, protects public employees, applicants, and contractors from adverse action by their agencies for disclosing information of a specified nature.

What acts are protected?

  • Reporting health, safety, or welfare violations to an appropriate agency.
  • Reporting the misuse of a governmental office.
  • Reporting the gross waste of funds.
  • Reporting any other abuse or neglect of duty by an agency, public officer, or employee.

Other Protections: The Florida Act: Title XXXI 448.102

The second statute, Title XXXI 448.102, prohibits private employers from taking retaliatory personnel action against employees for the act of disclosing law-violating practices.

What acts are protected?

  • Disclosing, or threatening to disclose practices that violate the law. The protections may not apply unless you have brought the activity to a supervisor’s attention and given your employer a reasonable opportunity to correct it.
  • Providing information to or testifying before governmental agencies conducting an investigation, hearing, or inquiry into an alleged law violation.
  • Objecting to or refusing to participate in practices that may violate the law.

Both laws forbid retaliation but define what forms that retaliation may take broadly so that public and private employers cannot easily find protected means of retaliation. However, many whistleblowers may still face retaliation, and they may need to recognize it.

Every whistleblower should carefully consider the implications of whistleblowing so that they can be prepared.

Implications of Whistleblowing

Whistleblowing can have serious implications for whistleblowers. You may face retaliation, and seeking justice may be a long process.

What are some examples of whistleblower retaliation?

  • Termination or suspension from your job
  • Demotion to positions that pay less or include more difficult duties
  • Campaigns of harassment by your supervisors and coworkers
  • Denial of benefits or bonuses
  • “Blacklisting” from similar positions with other employers

Employers may choose not to act directly against you if you become a whistleblower. Instead, they may attempt to make the conditions of your job worse so that you leave on their own.

They may also build a paper trail of inflated disciplinary notices so that they can make it appear as if you were fired for a different cause.

If you believe that you have faced retaliation, you may need to take advantage of the protections that exist under the Florida Whistleblower Act.

How Does The Florida Whistleblower Act Protect Whistleblowers?

The Florida Whistleblower Act provides several ways that employees may seek justice for illegal retaliation. First, the law provides for three remedies. These are actions that employees may take to declare that their rights have been violated.

Remedies under The Florida Whistleblower Act

  1. Any employee or applicant for a state agency who is discharged, disciplined, or subjected to other adverse personnel action may file a complaint that will be investigated by the Florida Commission on Human Relations. When that investigation is complete, the whistleblower has 180 days to either seek an administrative remedy or bring a civil action.
  2. Within 60 days after facing retaliation, any protected public employee may file a complaint with an appropriate local governmental authority, including a regional, county, or municipal entity, special district, community college district.

    The panel must present its findings for a final decision by the local governmental authority. Within 180 days after the local governmental authority’s final decision, the public employee who filed the complaint can bring a civil action.

  3. After exhausting all available contractual or administrative remedies, any other person protected by this law may bring a civil action in any court with jurisdiction within 180 days after the violation.

The law names some of the types of relief that a whistleblower may seek. These are the demands you may make based on the type of retaliation you faced.

Types of Relief that a Whistleblower May Seek

  • Reinstatement to the same position you held before any retaliation or to an equivalent position. You may also demand reasonable front pay as alternative relief.
  • Reinstatement of your full fringe benefits and seniority rights, as appropriate.
  • Compensation for lost wages, benefits, or other lost losses caused by the retaliation.
  • Payment of reasonable costs, including your attorney’s fees
  • Issuance of an injunction
  • Temporary reinstatement to your former position or to an equivalent position

How to File a Whistleblower Claim

How and where you file your whistleblower claim may depend on what public employer you work for and your complaint’s nature. Your complaint may need to be processed by one of the following parties:

  • Florida Commission on Human Relations
  • The Office of the Chief Inspector General
  • The Agency Inspector General
  • The Whistleblower’s Hotline

The best way to make sure that any complaint is properly filed is to speak to a whistleblower lawyer. Lawyers who focus on this area have the expertise to know whether you have a credible case and what needs to be done to prepare the case for investigation and Department of Justice scrutiny.

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