Whistleblowers who disclose information about a violation of law or abuse of power in the workplace often suffer retaliation that can take a serious toll on their financial and emotional well-being, as well as their reputation and career. To protect them from such repercussions, both Missouri and federal lawmakers came up with a range of protections, including potential whistleblower reward claims.
Understanding whistleblower retaliation
Employees or just about anyone in an organization has the right to report any wrongdoings they become aware of during their job duties under the Missouri and federal employment law. However, such disclosures may bring forth negative repercussions from those in the organization who want to keep these matters hidden. This can include demotions, suspension, poor performance reviews or even termination of employment.
Laws that protect whistleblowers
Laws such as the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) of 1989, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012, the False Claims Act, the No Fear Act and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act are in place to protect whistleblowers from such retaliation. The False Claims Act is the most important of these laws, as it encourages those with knowledge of fraud committed against the government to take action by filing a qui tam suit. A qui tam suit is a legal case filed by a private citizen, often an employee, looking to bring action against the employer for false claims.
If you are considering filing a claim against your employer or supervisor in Missouri, start by ensuring you have sufficient evidence to back up your assertions. This could be in the form of emails, documents or witness testimonies. Most retaliation claims require you to file a complaint with a government agency before you go to court. For example, if your employer fired you for complaining about workplace discrimination, you will need to first file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC will then investigate the case, and if they deem it valid, they will pursue legal action.
No employee should endure any form of retaliation or detriment for speaking out against wrongdoing or illegal activity. If you believe you have been wrongfully treated for reporting criminal activity, know that there are laws and systems in place to protect your rights.