Unfortunately, many people across the country have to deal with employer retaliation after blowing the whistle on their company. First of all, we are sorry. There is nothing worse in professional life than getting fired. It is especially traumatic to get fired precisely because you told your bosses about something obviously wrong. You probably trusted your boss and your co-workers, and now it appears that trust was misplaced. It is hard to know who to trust now.
It is not our business, but it is possible that someone in this position may need additional professional help. Indeed, many of our clients tell us that before they got fired for being a whistleblower, they thought stress was a joke, and that you should not be able to sue for it. Now they think differently about that idea.
Having said all that, we are lawyers and not therapists. We are not equipped to help you in that way. What we can do is advise you of your right to sue for retaliation or wrongful termination after blowing the whistle. How you sue and what evidence you may have are issues to discuss with your DC lawyer.
How a Lawyer Could Help if You Were Fired for Being a Whistleblower
If you have a False Claims Act case, then you may be able to sue as part of that case. Specifically, if you have suffered retaliation because of any reports you made regarding the idea that the government was harmed, you may have an action under Section 3730(h) of that Act. State laws allow for similar claims.
Depending on the situation, you could sue for double back pay, reinstatement and special damages. If you have a good False Claims Case and you were fired, it is likely that your lawyer will want to handle that allegation that way. However, this can sometimes be a little difficult in the sense that when you are filing a False Claims Case, you will have to keep the case confidential. That may not sit well with some whistleblowers who want to go public with all their allegations. Still, the right to recover for retaliation under the False Claims Act is settled under law, so if you have suffered retaliation from your employer under these circumstances, it can make sense to incorporate the allegation as part of a False Claims Act case.
Types of Actions by an Employer That Could be Considered Retaliation
Usually, an employer dedicated to retaliating against a whistleblower winds up firing them. I’ve also had cases where clients have been called various names, which might bring to mind discrimination claims. In any type of workplace, harassment can result from a whistleblower blowing the whistle, as well as loss of pay, loss of bonuses, loss of benefits, or loss of promotions. Any of that is conceivably actionable under an anti-retaliation provision.
The reality, though, is that whistleblowers who internally report fraud or something that rises to the level of a False Claims Act case usually wind up getting fired. That’s usually the starting point of figuring out what the damages to that whistleblower are for employer retaliation. There is a whole different area of whistleblower law for federal employees and what they do to them, because they rarely fire them—they typically just destroy their career instead.
Other Ways a Lawyer Can Help with Employer Retaliation
If you were fired for another reason or you do not have a False Claims case, you still may have an employment law claim under other laws, so don’t be offended by the questions your prospective attorney asks about any of this. It may be hard for you to talk about, but your lawyer in DC needs to know as much as possible about the circumstances to advise you.
You may decide that suing for retaliation is the most important aspect of your case, or that part of your case is harder to prove. You may decide that it is more important to try to stop the underlying practices which you complained about in the first place. These are all issues to consider. In any event, if you have a case of the government being defrauded and you were retaliated against for taking action against it, you have the right to sue for employer retaliation against a whistleblower—and at the same time, attempt to obtain a share of any recovery the government makes based on your allegations—under the Federal False Claims Act.