What Constitutes A Protected Activity Under The Florida Whistleblower Act?
The Florida Whistleblower Act is a law that establishes and protects the rights of whistleblowers. A whistleblower who is engaged in “protected activity” cannot be terminated or otherwise punished by an employer because of that conduct. This raises an important question: What is a protected activity in a whistleblower case? The short answer is that it is acts taken in an effort to report or stop fraud or other suspected misconduct by an employer. Here, our Florida whistleblower rights attorney highlights the key things that you should understand about protected activities under the Florida Whistleblower Act.
Employers are Prohibited from Retaliating Against Whistleblowers
As a starting point, it is important to understand that the Florida Whistleblower Act provides covered employees with protection against retaliation. Under the law, retaliation occurs when an employer takes any type of adverse action against an employee because that employee blew the whistle. To be protected against retaliation under the Florida Whistleblower Act, a worker must actually engage in whistleblowing activity. Whistleblowing activity is also often referred to as ‘protected activity’.
Protected Activity: Whistleblowing Activity
In the broad sense, protected activity is whistleblowing behavior. In Florida, an employee is engaged in whistleblower activity (protected activity) if they take action—internally or externally—to stop, report, or testify about suspected unlawful actions or inactions by an employer. Some potential examples of conduct that could be protected activity under the Florida Whistleblower Act include:
- Raising your concerns about potential billing fraud to a supervisor;
- Telling your boss about a serious workplace safety violation;
- Filing an environmental complaint about your company to a regulator;
- Reporting a wage and hour violation or other labor law violation;
- Cooperating with a state investigation after authorities approach you; and
- Actively testifying in a coworker’s whistleblower claim.
It is important to emphasize that the Florida Whistleblower Act allows protected activity to be other internal and external. In other words, you can engage in legally protected whistleblower activity in Florida without ever saying anything to anyone outside of your company. The disclosures that you make to your coworkers or your supervisor could potentially count as protected activity under the law.
Disclosures Must Be Good Faith and Reasonable—Not Necessarily Right
Whistleblowing activity occurs when an employee (or other person with inside knowledge) disclose fraud, health violations, or other misconduct. To engage in protected whistleblower activity, you must make such a disclosure—either inside or outside of your company. You are only protected if your report is good faith and reasonable. You do not have to be “right” about the suspected fraud, waste, or abuse. Reporting reasonable suspicions of wrongdoing is protected whistleblower activity.
Schedule a Free Consultation With a Florida Whistleblower Act Attorney
At Guttman, Freidin & Celler, we fight for justice for whistleblowers. If you have any specific questions or concerns about what constitutes a protected activity under the Florida Whistleblower Act, we are available to help. Call us now or contact us online to set up a confidential initial case assessment. From our Miami office, we represent whistleblowers throughout Florida.