The term whistleblower is used in the workplace in reference to an employee who reports the wrongdoing of an employer to law enforcement or a government agency. In a whistleblower incident, an employer may try to take action against the individual including discharging them from their position, suspending or demoting the individual. However, there are whistleblower laws in the state of Massachusetts as well as on a federal level that protect the individual from retaliation of the employer. At Malonis Law Office, we have settled several employment law cases, including those involving a whistleblower. We can help you fight any action by your employer if you have whistleblower status.
Based on state law, employees are protected when they engage in activity that is considering whistleblowing. A public employer does not have the right to retaliate against an employee who chooses to or threatens to disclose the actions of the employer that the employee believes are in violation of regulations, rules or laws.
Employees who have been subjected to retaliation by an employer in this instance can seek to be reinstated within their employment position as well as awarded benefits lost, have attorneys’ fees paid, and access wages that were lost.
On top of state laws, there are also federal laws in place to protect employees who are acting as a whistleblower. The Occupational Safety and Health Act is one such federal law. With this law, employees who qualify can file a complaint with OSHA if they have faced retaliatory action for reporting a safety hazard in the workplace to a government agency.
False Claims Act
In Massachusetts, the False Claims Act is a law that creates liability on an individual who knowingly presents false claims or fraudulent claims for payment to the state, as well as misappropriating state property or avoiding their obligation to pay the state, among other issues.
Based on this law, a defendant may have to pay as much as three times the harm to the state, along with a fine that can range in price from $5,500 to $11,000 for each violation. For the whistleblower involved in a False Claims Act, the individual may be given recovery if the state’s Attorney General intervenes and is part of the prosecution. 15 to 25 percent of recovery may be paid to the whistleblower for their role in the case.
The award may be lower though if the individual planned the fraud or initiated the fraud. The amount of recovery may be higher if the whistleblower chooses to prosecute the case on their own.
With any whistleblower case, a complaint must be filed within ten years of the date on which the violation took place. The statute of limitations must be met, or a case cannot be prosecuted.
If you or someone you love has been involved in a whistleblower situation and they need to take legal action, contact our experienced Massachusetts employment law attorneys. We are ready to provide you with our vast knowledge and experience, helping you to fight any action taken by your employer. Give us a call today to set up a consultation.