Whistleblowing has been in the news lately, however, in our daily lives, we might not run into many instances where someone is whistleblowing at our company. That being said, whistleblowing happens more than we recognize. Most cases don’t get covered in the news like a national news story, but in Florida, whistleblower act claims occur every so often.
As a principle, whistleblowing is an act that should not be taken lightly. Many fear the act of whistleblowing because they believe they might be at risk in a number of different physical, emotional, and financial ways. Understanding your rights helps to make sure you’re prepared to blow the whistle on any questionable activity occurring at your job. Here’s what you need to know about whistleblower act claims in Florida, and how to keep yourself protected under the law.
What is Whistleblowing?
Whistleblowing is the act of providing insider information to the public about something illegal happening within your organization or company. Whistleblowers like Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning are two examples of high profile individuals who recently made headlines. For example, Snowden worked at the National Security Administration and saw that the government was taking citizen’s information without a warrant or legal support. Feeling cheated by this act, Snowden provided the public, the media, and the world with information about how much of an abuse of power was happening. However, Snowden didn’t follow the appropriate whistleblower protocol, which has landed him in plenty of hot water.
The act of whistleblowing doesn’t just happen at the national level or in governmental organizations. Companies that work with governmental organizations can also find out things about dealings that encourage the spreading of real facts. For example, receiving news that a contract would go to your company in exchange for fundraising dollars for a political candidate would be highly unethical. Things that come out during whistleblower information drops often deal with illegal activity. Sometimes, they can also deal with icky or unethical things that are a little grayer in terms of illegality.
What Constitutes Whistleblower Information?
Whistleblowers have access to high profile and confidential information because they work for an organization. As you can imagine, the company likely does not want its employees sharing corporate information with the public. They especially don’t want illegal dealings leaving the office or staff. For this reason, many companies make employees sign NDAs, or non-disclosure agreements. That means any information you have because of your job cannot be shared with others. Breaking an NDA is punishable by law. Ironically, so is not sharing information about fraud or wrongful actions done by your company.
Is It Illegal to Be a Whistleblower?
Your company does not want you to share information about illegal or fraudulent activity. For this reason, they will likely have you sign an NDA and attempt to silence or terminate people who speak out against wrongful actions. A great example is not being paid properly. A company might start to try and earn bigger contracts with governmental organizations. As a result, you might notice that a current contract is overbilled, leading you to believe that the governmental organization is charging extra as a sign of good favor for future contracts. This is illegal, and very much something you should report.
It’s not illegal to share information dealing with fraudulent practices, but your company might try to argue against you in court. For this reason, they’ll try and sue you for breaking an NDA while simultaneously claiming they did nothing wrong. Individuals are frightened by the resources of a company, but you have protections as well.
Protections for Whistleblowers
Whistleblowers have protections, including anonymity, they can exercise when sharing information about fraudulent information. In Florida, lawyers will protect your rights as a whistleblower when you file a claim. The claim will detail information you’re bringing to the attention of the public and the courts regarding improper actions. You have the right to keep your identity private during the course of an investigation into a company’s fraud. If your information does come out, lawyers can also protect you from lawsuits claiming you shared information illegally. The whistleblower act in Florida states that you are protected when sharing information that leads to the discovery of illegal behavior by a company, corporation, or governmental organization.
What Information is Worth Being a Whistleblower?
It’s not fair to pinpoint a type of illegal or unethical behavior that crosses the whistleblower threshold. Any number of things can constitute a worthy call to attention on bad behavior at a company or within the government. Something as small as economic waste in your company for no reason is worth bringing attention to. Why? Well, money comes to companies and the government through taxes and business deals. At the end of the day, taxpayers are the ones losing money to government waste and illegal activity. For that reason, it’s important to protect yourself and your fellow citizens by raising attention to bad behaviors when they come up in your workplace.
Looking for Whistleblower Protection? Call Burnett Law
Burnett Law is prepared to help protect you from any and all lawsuits and threats that come your way upon whistleblowing. When the government is being defrauded, or your company is seeing some sort of shakedown from a business partner, you have the right to speak up. In many cases, it’s the right thing to do, and you have a moral obligation to avoid continuing unlawful behavior. The actions of others are not your responsibility, but knowing about illegal behavior and not saying anything is wrong. Contact us at 813.221.5000 to speak with an experienced Tampa, Florida whistleblower attorney if you have information you’d like to share while maintaining protection.