What is Whistleblowing?
When an employee makes the decision to “blow the whistle” on unethical or illegal conduct they witness from their employer, the employee faces the risk of retaliation from their employer for the employee’s whistleblowing. Retaliation can be something as simple as receiving undesirable assignments, or can be as severe as termination from employment. The fear of retaliation can keep many employees of good conscience quiet in the face of unethical, illegal, or criminal conduct. Fortunately, there are many laws at the federal and state level that protect whistleblower employees from retaliation or provide them with a cause of action in the event they are the victim of retaliation for whistleblowing.
A whistleblower is a person who contacts law enforcement or other government authorities when the person witnesses or has evidence of illegal or unethical activity at their place of work. Even with legal protections in place for whistleblowers, they may still be subject to bullying, harassment, or retaliation from their place of work. This is why any employee considering becoming a whistleblower should contact an attorney to better understand their rights as a whistleblower and to have legal representation to assert those rights if the employee suffers some sort of adverse reaction as a result of becoming a whistleblower.
Under federal and state laws, when a person contacts a law enforcement or regulatory agency to report their employer’s violation of laws or regulations, such as environmental laws, anti-discrimination laws, or financial regulations, that person becomes a whistleblower. State and federal laws prohibit retaliation against whistleblowers, so that whistleblowers may feel safe cooperating with government investigators and will therefore be encouraged to come forward with evidence of illegal or unethical activity in the first place.
Retaliation can take the form of:
- Loss of work assignments
- Receiving undesirable work assignments
- Losing benefits or pay
If a person has already left employment of the company they are blowing the whistle on, retaliation can also take the form of efforts by the former employer to prevent the whistleblower from securing new employment. With laws in place to protect whistleblowers, it is important for any whistleblower to have legal representation who can identify if the whistleblower is being subjected to retaliation and who can take steps to enforce the whistleblower’s rights and to seek compensation for any damages caused by the retaliation.
Anti-retaliation laws have been put in place to protect whistleblowers and encourage them to come forward with information about businesses’ illegal or unethical conduct. In many cases, a whistleblower comes to learn about their employer’s illegal or unethical conduct because the employee is part of that conduct. In these cases, it may be necessary for the employee to come to government authorities represented by legal counsel since the whistleblower may need to negotiate a plea agreement or a deal for immunity from prosecution for the employee’s own role in the illegal conduct. If investigators want the whistleblower to become a confidential informant as part of the investigation into the alleged illegal conduct, it is critical to have legal counsel who will help draft up an agreement with the government to set forth the whistleblower’s rights and protections as part of the investigation and to ensure that they will either not be prosecuted for their role in the illegal conduct or will receive an agreed-upon sentence.
Contact a Moorestown Labor & Employment Lawyer to Discuss Your New Jersey Whistleblower Case
Although New Jersey labor laws are supposed to provide you with protections in your job, it is not always easy to get the benefits and rights you deserve. That is why you should speak with a knowledgeable labor and employment law attorney about your situation and get guidance throughout the process of asserting your rights. The experienced labor and employment attorneys at Attorneys Hartman, Chartered represent clients in Mount Laurel, Haddonfield, Cherry Hill, Voorhees, and all across New Jersey. Call (856) 235-0220 or fill out our online contact form today to schedule a free consultation about your case. Our main office is located at 68 E. Main Street, Moorestown, NJ 08057.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.