Florida Whistleblower Claims
There are times when an employee (whistleblower) realizes that the company he or she is working for is doing something wrong or illegal. A few examples would be when an employee discovers that:
- employer is over-billing the U.S. Government on a contract;
- employer is over-billing Medicare or Medicaid; or
- employer does not pay its employees overtime benefits when earned.
Essentially, anything that an employer does that is illegal or in violation of a statute comes within the protection of the Florida Whistleblower Act under Florida Statute 448 .102. This statute provides employees with protection where the employee does not accept, tolerate, or in fact reports an employer’s violations of laws and statutes. Florida Whistleblower Act was enacted to protect private employees who report or refuse to assist employers who violate laws enacted to protect the public, and is to be construed liberally. The Florida Whistleblower Act applies to employers with more than 10 employees.
The Florida whistleblower statute contains protections where an employee complains in writing to an employer, as well as in certain situations where the employee provides no notice to the employer prior to initiating a lawsuit. The Florida whistleblower statute also provides an employee protection where he or she has testified, or has agreed to testify, before a court or other governmental entity regarding an investigation into the employer’s violation of a regulation, rule, or statute.
When an employee reports this type of activity, the employee is considered a “whistleblower” and may have the right to bring a whistleblower lawsuit. Quite often, employers punish whistleblowers. Employers may fire whistleblowers, demote whistleblowers, reassign whistleblowers, or generally do something that is adverse to the whistleblower’s job with the employer.
To bring a whistleblower claim the whistleblower must show:
- that he or she was engaged in a protected activity under the Florida Whistleblower Act,
- that the whistleblower suffered some adverse employment action, and
- that the adverse employment action was related to the actions of the whistleblower.
An employee has generally two years to file a whistleblower lawsuit after he or she discovers that the employer took punitive or retaliatory action against the employee against the mandates of the Florida Whistleblower Act.
The Florida Whistleblower Act provides many of the same recoveries as other discrimination statutes. A court can order the whistleblower’s reinstatement to the same position as he or she was in prior to the complained of act. The court may also enter an injunction against the whistleblower’s employer preventing the employer from conducting itself in the same fashion in the future. The Florida Whistleblower Act enables the whistleblower to receive lost wages and other lost benefits. Also, the Florida Whistleblower Act provides for the award of the whistleblower’s attorney’s fees and costs.
For an initial consultation with one of our experienced attorneys call 305-372-2877 or 877-858-2977 or fill out the contact form on the right side of this page. It would be our privilege to take your call.