Three Things To Prove To Bring A Successful Whistleblower Retaliation Claim
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), retaliation is the single most “frequently alleged basis of discrimination” in employment law claims. It is often an issue in whistleblower cases. Unfortunately, some employers try to unlawfully stop whistleblowing activity by punishing workers who engage in it.
Retaliation against whistleblowers is prohibited by state and federal laws. This raises an important question: What are the elements of a successful whistleblower retaliation claim? In this article, our Florida IRS whistleblower attorneys answer the question by highlighting three key things that an employee needs to prove to bring a successful retaliation claim.
What an Employee Needs to Show in a Whistleblower Retaliation Claim
- Whistleblowing Activity (or Perceived Whistleblowing Activity)
To file a whistleblower retaliation claim, an employee generally must have engaged in a protected activity under a state or federal whistleblower statute. For example, an employee may have provided a disclosure to government officials under the False Claims Act. If so, then they are protected against retaliation by that law. A whistleblower does not have to be “right” in their allegations to be protected—they merely need a reasonable and good faith belief.
Note: Employees are protected by whistleblower laws if an employer believes that they made a disclosure, even if they did not actually make that disclosure. For example, imagine that an anonymous employee filed a safety complaint with OSHA. An employer could be held liable for whistleblower retaliation if it inadvertently punished the wrong employee.
- An Adverse Employment Action Against the Whistleblower
Whistleblower retaliation requires an adverse employment action. In effect, this means that something unfavorable must have happened to the employee. Adverse employment actions can come in a wide range of different forms. Some of the common examples of adverse employment actions in whistleblower retaliation claims include:
- Denial of job opportunities;
- Harassment/hostile work environment; and
- Wrongful termination.
- A Causal Link Between Protected Disclosures and Adverse Employment Action
Finally, a claimant in a whistleblower retaliation case must prove a connection between their protected disclosure (whistleblowing activity) and the adverse employment action that they suffered. Employers can still take adverse action against an employee who blows the whistle—but only if they have a genuine, non-retaliatory reason for doing so. This is often the most challenging element to prove in a whistleblower retaliation case. A comprehensive investigation is required into all whistleblower retaliation cases. An experienced whistleblower rights attorney can help you put together a strong and compelling claim that establishes unlawful retaliation.
Call Our Florida Whistleblower Retaliation Lawyers for Immediate Help
At Guttman, Freidin & Celler, our top-rated whistleblower rights attorneys have the skills and experience to represent employees in retaliation claims. We have successfully obtained $5 billion in judgments in False Claims Act cases. If you or your loved one was the victim of whistleblower retaliation, we can help. Contact us today for a free, fully confidential consultation. From our main office in Miami, our attorneys provide nationwide representation in whistleblower claims.