Frequently Asked Questions About Whistleblower Claims
When you report wrongdoing in your company, you shouldn’t fear retaliation or job loss. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Here are a few of the most common questions Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm sees about whistleblower claims:
What Should I Do If I Think I Will Be Fired For Reporting Illegal Activities Or Unsafe Working Conditions?
Whistleblower Claims Attorney: It is important to report any illegal activities or unsafe working conditions in writing. The failure to do so may result in you not having a viable claim. Furthermore, some employers will lie about whether you reported the unlawful conduct or dangerous conditions in writing, or dispute that you reported it at all. To that end, it is important for you to keep evidence of this report. For example, if you send something by email, keep a copy of the email in electronic and printed form. If you faxed a complaint or report to your boss or HR, keep both the fax and the fax confirmation sheet. Even keeping a text message on your phone will be proof that you complained in writing. If none of these options are available, you can handwrite the complaint or fill out the form – but you should use your phone to take a picture and/or video of both the form and you leaving it in a mailbox or sliding it under your manager’s or supervisor’s door.
Should I Sign Any Papers When My Boss Fires Me?
Whistleblower Claims Attorney: Do not sign any documents right after being fired. You have already been fired and signing any papers cannot help you. Most likely, any papers that your boss or manager give you after being fired is to help your employer. Once you have been fired, your employer cannot force you to do anything. Tell them you will be having an attorney review any documents that they want you to sign before you sign anything.
If I Was Fired Today After Reporting Unlawful Conduct Or Dangerous Conditions, What Should I Do?
Whistleblower Claims Attorney: Being fired is a nerve-racking and scary moment. It may be hard to keep your head right after being wrongfully terminated. If you can, these are some of the things that you should keep in mind. You should keep your anger in check and avoid engaging in negative actions against the employer, such as breaking property on the way out; deleting documents or information from your computer; or badmouthing your former employer to clients or customers. This includes not going on social media to blast your former employer.
You should take with you all paperwork that is properly in that your possession, including the company’s employee handbook, emails or memos sent to or by the employee, previous human resource (HR) complaints in which the employee filed, participated, or was the subject of, performance reviews, schedules, time card, payroll records, documents showing changes to salary and job title, and any other documents that demonstrate that employee’s work habits and job performance. If you are a contract employee, keep a copy of the contract.
Can My Employer Sue Me For Breaching A Confidentiality Agreement When I Reported Illegal Conduct?
Whistleblower Claims Attorney: The law does not allow people to enter contracts for an illegal purpose. Moreover, the SEC recently made clear that it will go after companies that force confidentiality agreements upon employees in an attempt to muzzle whistleblower complaints. Nonetheless, in an abundance of caution, you should call our attorneys to go over your agreement and advise you on how to proceed with reporting illegal conduct and/or dangerous work conditions.
Can My Employer Fire Me If I Honestly Thought There Was Something Illegal Going On, But There Really Was Not?
Whistleblower Claims Attorney: The law favors reporting of any honest belief that there may be something illegal or dangerous going on at your place of employment. For the most part, courts have held that an employee need not show that an actual violation occurred. Instead, these courts have held that it is sufficient that the employee had a reasonable belief that a violation occurred. If the employee had a reasonable belief – i.e. was just not making it up to save his or her job – then the employer cannot fire or otherwise retaliate against that employee.
DISCLAIMER: These answers do not constitute legal advice or guidance.