The former veterans services director of Livingston County, Michigan, has filed a lawsuit against the county and the chairman of its Veterans Services Committee, contending he was fired for reporting what he perceived as misconduct by the chairman.
Workers in the United States are trained to understand that the employer is in charge, and they need to follow directions at all times. In certain situations, this is fine. However, this mindset does sometimes cause workers to think they have to ignore unethical or even illegal behavior because they are not in charge.
No federal employee should have to keep his or her mouth shut after viewing unlawful behavior at work. In fact, the federal Whistleblower Protection Act was created for the express purpose of protecting government workers who witnessed immoral, wrongful or illegal conduct at their jobs -- so that they can report it to authorities without fear of consequences.
Whistleblowers are people who witness unlawful or unethical behavior at their workplaces and decide to tell authorities and others about it. In most cases, people who "blow the whistle" on their employers receive more difficulty and headache than they do fame and notoriety, but sometimes, a whistleblower could go down in history.
One of the biggest dangers of becoming a so-called "whistleblower" is the threat of employer retaliation. Imagine, for example, that you work for a construction firm that engages in numerous Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) safety violations because it's too "cheap" to pay for legally required safety improvements.
A qui tam action is one that an employee initiates against an employer that committed fraud against the government. Qui tam actions are not that common, however, because employees are often afraid to report their employer's unlawful activity -- due to a fear of negative employment retaliation by the employer. This is why employees who wish to report the government fraud committed by their employers need to learn about the federal whistleblower laws that protect them.
If you witness wrongful or unlawful activity at your workplace, you have every right to report that activity to your superior — or to the authorities — without fear of negative employment consequences. If your employer decides to retaliate against you for reporting such information, i.e., for being a whistleblower, you might be able to pursue justice and financial restitution by filing a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit in federal court.
Your bosses always say they have an open-door policy. Come in and talk about anything that concerns you at any time, they say.
What if you're a federal employee who saw a coworker breaking the law, but when you reported the behavior to your supervisor, you were told to keep quiet? Would you tell your supervisor's boss about what happened? Would you go to the appropriate legal authorities and tell them what's going on?
Jackson Public Schools was ordered to pay a teacher $388,485 in both economic and punitive damages on March 7. After more than a week of trial and litigation, a dispute that began in 2015 was finally settled. However, the school board still has a 30-day period in which they can appeal the decision.