|Employees who alert their companies about potential or actual health, safety, or public policy problems can provide an early warning of danger ahead. But if employers aren’t careful how they handle whistleblower complaints, they could wind up in legal trouble — possibly with damaging publicity.
Most employees initially voice their concerns about illegal, unethical or dangerous business practices to their supervisors. But they may decide to take their stories to the government or the news media. In either case, various laws protect whistleblowers from retaliation.
At one time, most federal and state whistleblower laws only protected employees who raised certain types of public health, safety or health care fraud issues. But that all changed when Congress enacted the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and drastically changing the protections provided to whistleblowers at publicly traded firms.
Then, in July of 2010, the Dodd-Frank Act was signed into law, authorizing the Securities and Exchange Commission to reward whistleblowers with 10 to 30 percent of the amounts it recovers above $1 million.
Generally speaking, courts make a fairly broad interpretation of what constitutes retaliation or discrimination against a whistleblower. For example, without irrefutable justifying documentation, you can’t:
Here are a few tips to help protect your company: