What Should I do if I’m Facing Whistleblower Retaliation?
If you are a whistleblower facing retaliation, immediately obtain legal counsel from a whistleblower attorney. The reason is simple. What you blow the whistle on and the method you use to make your disclosure will determine your rights going forward. It is to your advantage to make your disclosure according to the laws that will provide you with the maximum protection.
See the following rules:
- Rule 2: Navigate the Maze
- Rule 3: Follow the Money
- Rule 4: Find the Best Federal Law
- Rule 5: Don’t Forget State Laws
- International Toolkit
Most federal laws permit you to file whistleblower cases before your company fires you. Supreme Court precedent has broadly defined adverse action, to include things like demotion, transfer, or change in job duties. See: Rule 24: Get to the Jury.
The moment you believe retaliation is occurring, contact a whistleblower attorney to see if you can file a claim. You should not wait until you the company fires you.
Can I be fired for whistleblowing?
Often managers or companies can lash out aggressively if they feel threatened by a whistleblower. You have to be emotionally and financially prepared for the lid to blow. See: Rule 21: Be Prepared for the Lid to Blow. It is essential to obtain legal counsel. Putting your job and reputation in jeopardy can be a significant life-changing event. Preparation is crucial.
Follow the statutes of limitations for each law. All whistleblower laws have a statute of limitation, which sets forth deadlines for filing complaints. Some deadlines are short as 30 days; others are three years or more. Once you determine which law to use, learn the statute of limitation.
How do you find the best federal/state law?
There is no federal whistleblower protection act. However, there are over 50 laws permitting job protection or permitting you to obtain financial rewards governing almost every type of whistleblowing. There are also significant and strong state laws; for these, there are wide discrepancies.
The New Whistleblower’s Handbook has the following rules that provide an overview of steps to take in retaliation cases:
- Rule 20: Cautiously Use “Self-Help” Tactics
- Rule 21: Be Prepared for the Lid to Blow
- Rule 22: Delay Is Deadly
- Rule 23: Conduct Discovery
- Rule 24: Get to the Jury
- Rule 25: Win the Case: Prove Motive and Pretext
- Rule 26: Get Every Penny Deserved
- Rule 27: Make the Boss Pay Attorney Fees
Learn more from The New Whistleblower’s Handbook
What are the limits of this FAQ? Is there a disclaimer concerning the information presented here?
Whistleblower laws are complex. There are several qui tam or reward laws that can result in a whistleblower obtaining a multi-million-dollar judgment. Each of these laws has specific filing requirements. Additionally, there are over 50 different federal anti-retaliation laws designed to protect whistleblowers from discrimination. Again, each of these laws has various lengths of statutes of limitation, filing procedures, and definition of a protected disclosure.
These FAQs give whistleblowers an overview of significant whistleblower qui tam, reward, or anti-retaliation laws. They are not comprehensive. If you believe you may have a whistleblower case, you should contact an attorney and obtain specific advice based on the facts of your case. You cannot rely only on the information in this FAQ to determine whether or not you have a valid claim.
A critical resource for those thinking of blowing the whistle is The New Whistleblower’s Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Doing What’s Right and Protecting Yourself (Lyons Press 2017). The Handbook contains a detailed discussion on all major whistleblower laws and has extensive citations to legal cases and statutes the protect whistleblowers. It is an invaluable resource.
Because of the complexity of the whistleblower laws, we disclaim all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on the contents of this FAQ. The FAQ is a summary guide to understanding your rights. You should contact an attorney with expertise in whistleblowing before you make a disclosure. You must know your rights before you “blow the whistle,” so you can ensure that your conduct will be protected.
Can the whistleblower attorneys working at Kohn, Kohn and Colapinto help me?
The whistleblower law firm of Kohn, Kohn and Colapinto has a straightforward intake process. It is available here. Every intake is confidential, and the information provided protected under the attorney-client privilege. A senior partner at Kohn, Kohn and Colapinto reads each intake submission.
The intake process is free of charge.
Unfortunately, KKC receives many more requests for assistance then it can handle and must turn away many qualified whistleblowers. If KKC cannot represent you, you still may have a solid case.
If KKC believes you may have a case with which it can help you, you will receive a follow-up call or email to obtain more information and determine whether or not our firm can represent you. Until you have a signed written agreement with the firm, we are not your attorneys (although all of the information you provide to us is privileged and confidential). Almost all of our cases are on a contingency fee basis.