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Employers break law when retaliating against whistleblowers

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act extends specific legal protections to employees in Florida who complain about wrongdoing at their places of employment. Many types of negative actions by employers meant to punish whistleblowers potentially qualify as retaliation, including termination, demotion, harassment, constructive discharge and outing.

Constructive discharge represents a tactic in which an employer attempts to avoid outright termination by pressuring an employee to resign. The law recognizes that an employer might make working conditions so unpleasant that a reasonable person would choose to leave. Another legal standard for constructive discharge involves the threat of imminent job loss, which makes the employee leave.

Outing refers to an employer revealing to a whistleblower's co-workers that the person is causing trouble for the company. The action could ostracize the person and make performing duties difficult or impossible, as was the case with a man who filed a complaint about his employer's accounting practices with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The general counsel for his employer emailed his employees about the issue and warned them not to share documents with him. He resigned less than a year later. The law could view the outing of a whistleblowing employee as creating an environment that discourages other workers from making lawful complaints.

A person working in a location where wrongdoing appears to be happening could seek out whistleblower legal help. An attorney could review the details of the problem and research the law to see if the person could qualify for legal protection. Legal support could enable a person to go forward with a claim about fraudulent activities while protecting a job position. If the person has already suffered retaliation or job loss, an attorney might prepare a legal action to pursue financial damages or gain a reinstatement to a position.

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