Laws Shield Some Employees From Retaliation
Federal and state laws shield certain employees from retaliation for seeking to enforce legal rights or engaging in legally protected activity. These include protections for whistleblowers, so named because they seek to bring to light a company’s alleged wrongdoing. However, these laws have distinct limitations, and defenses are available to employers. At DeLong, Caldwell, Bridgers, Fitzpatrick & Benjamin, LLC in Atlanta, we are committed to advocating for the rights of whistleblowers and defending companies against unwarranted claims.
Whistleblowers Perform an Important Public Function
Whistleblowers can and do expose illegal or dangerous wrongdoing by employers or government agencies. However, to earn legal protection from retaliation, whistleblowers must act in good faith and believe that the information they provide is accurate. Furthermore, the whistleblower’s complaint must meet the requirements of an applicable statute, such as the federal Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the Georgia Whistleblower Protection Act. We represent both employees and employers in these actions.
A whistleblower who uncovers fraud against the federal government may bring what is known as a qui tam lawsuit or False Claims Act lawsuit on behalf of the government and receive a share of any damages recovered from the wrongdoer.
Reasons for filing a whistleblower lawsuit
Whistleblower suits often arise when an employee claims retaliation by their employer for having reported conduct that is illegal or jeopardizes the health and safety of workers. Good cause for a lawsuit may be established by showing that:
- The employee complained about a subject covered by a whistleblower protection law.
- The employee did not violate the law or infringe on the employer’s legal rights in the course of making the complaint.
- The employer adversely affected the complaining worker’s employment after learning of the complaint.
- The employee suffered damages as a result.
Federal and state law protect employees from retaliation by their employers when employees file a complaint alleging:
- Securities, shareholders, and other types of fraud.
- Unsafe and unhealthy work conditions (including OSHA regulations).
- Detrimental environmental impacts.
- Employment discrimination and sexual harassment.
- If their employees report violations of the law by Georgia public agencies (or those that receive state money).
We counsel employers on how to avoid whistleblower complaints and how to mitigate damages for alleged retaliation. If you are an employee, we can advise you on how to report illegal or dangerous conduct in a way best calculated to avoid retaliation.
Assertive Advocates Seek Damages for Retaliation
The following actions may be considered retaliatory and may subject an employer to liability:
- Terminating or suspending an employee
- Issuing a demotion
- Reducing wages
- Imposing adverse employment conditions, such as changes in work schedule
Damages recoverable from an employer that retaliates against a whistleblower include:
- Back pay lost as a result of the retaliation
- Reinstatement of a terminated employee
- Future lost wages after a demotion
- Out-of-pocket losses
- Attorneys’ fees and court costs
Contact an experienced Georgia whistleblower protection lawyer
When you need help understanding or protecting your rights as a whistleblower or an employer, call DeLong, Caldwell, Bridgers, Fitzpatrick & Benjamin, LLC at or contact us online to arrange for a consultation. Our Atlanta office has convenient on and off-street parking and is ADA accessible.