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Whistleblowers do have protections under federal and state laws

You knew that there were unusual things going on at your business, and you thought that your employer might be defrauding the government. You didn't want to say anything for fear of losing your job, but you know that there is something wrong with this situation.

If everything is as you say, you could be in a position to become a whistleblower. A whistleblower is any employee who reports an employer who is violation of the law. It doesn't have to be defrauding the government. It could be sexual harassment, violating environmental regulations or other issues. The real issue for you, as you may already realize, is knowing whether or not you are protected if you turn your employer in to the authorities.

What kinds of protections are there for whistleblowers?

There are several federal acts that have protections for employees who report their employers. These acts include:

  • The Comprehensive Environmental Response Act
  • The Clean Air Act
  • The Compensation and Liability Act
  • The Water Pollution Control Act
  • The Toxic Substance Control Act
  • The Safe Drinking Water Act
  • The Solid Waste Disposal Act
  • The Energy Reorganization Act

Each of these can protect an employee who "blows the whistle" on his or her employer as long as he or she is doing so in good faith. The person should file a complaint with the employer or federal agency about the alleged violation first. If you do those things, you'll be protected after making the claim even if it ends up that the employer was in compliance with the laws.

Keep in mind that your employer may not retaliate against you. If he or she does, then you have a right to file a complaint within 30 days of the retaliatory action. File that complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Are there other protections not covered here?

Yes. In fact, there are state law protections for whistleblowers as well. These protections help by barring retaliation or discrimination against someone who is a whistleblower. You should always review your personal contract for your job to make sure there are no specific steps for making a whistleblower complaint. If there are and you violate the contract, it could void any protections you would have received.

These are a few things to know about whistleblower protections. Whistleblowers help keep employers honest and keep the public and other employees safe. If you feel something is wrong at work, you can make a complaint in good faith.

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