A whistleblower is simply someone who has knowledge of an improper or illegal activity of their employer and who decides to report that activity to the appropriate agency or authority. Since becoming a whistleblower is often a difficult decision which could impact your livelihood, it often requires careful thought and consideration along with a significant dose of courage to take on this role.
Despite the risks, the government wants to encourage people to report illegal or improper activity so there are often protections and incentives afforded whistleblowers. In Alabama, there are protections under both Alabama and Federal law to prevent retaliation against whistleblowers. A couple of these situations are outlined below:
Federal employment discrimination laws (often referred to as Title VII) prohibit an employer from retaliation against employees for engaging in “protected activity.” This simply means that an employer cannot harass, demote, fire or otherwise penalize an employee for reporting or participating as a witness in the investigation of race, age, disability or gender discrimination.
There are also laws that prevent employers from retaliating against employees who report workplace injuries under workers’ compensation laws. These laws also protect employees who provide written reports of workplace safety issues.
A number of other federal statutes protect employees from retaliation for blowing the whistle on businesses that defraud the federal government by making false claims for payment. The False Claims Act also potentially provides great rewards to employees by allowing them to receive a portion of the money recovered by the government. These cases often involve businesses that accept federal dollars in the form of Medicare, Medicaid, federal contracts and student loan dollars such as online colleges and universities.
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