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What are your rights as a whistleblower?

The term whistleblower refers to a person who reports illegal or unethical behavior in a public or private organization. Because revealing such malfeasance can trigger a range of repercussions, there are certain rights and protections afforded to whistleblowers by law. If you suspect that there is any wrongdoing taking place within your organization, you should be aware of your rights before you take action.

Statistics reported by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration indicate a rise in the number of claims made by whistleblowers, and OSHA maintains the following as rights for any whistleblower. If you suffer a violation of your rights, or if you fear retaliation, enlisting a legal representative may help.

Freedom to engage in protected activities

When you begin researching whistleblowing, you will likely see the phrase, "protected activities" used quite frequently. This term refers to the freedom of association employees have a right to, and it can also refer to specific actions that comprise part of the whistleblowing process. The latter may include filing an EEO charge, acting as a witness or investigating suspected wrongdoing.

Fair workplace treatment

The law entitles everybody to fair treatment in the workplace, and this is especially true of whistleblowers who may be at risk of retaliation. The most obvious form is wrongful termination, but retaliation can manifest in many other ways, too. You may face arbitrarily declining performance reviews or needlessly harsh treatment in the workplace, for example, and these are entirely unacceptable responses to whistleblowing.

Applicable legal protections

There are many local, state and federal laws in place to protect whistleblowers from employer retaliation. The protections extended by each of these is different, but in Florida, there are ample legal provisions made for employees who identify employers’ wrongdoings. In addition to the aforementioned rights, you are entitled to any and all legal affordances indicated by the laws that are applicable in your area.

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