Florida residents might be interested in learning about some whistleblower tips against Tesla that have been filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The whistleblowers are three former employees of the company, including two security professionals and one technician.
The protections afforded to federal workers in Florida and around the country who report fraud or other wrongdoing were strengthened when President Trump signed the Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick Whistleblower Protection Act and the Office of Special Counsel Reauthorization Act into law. The laws require disciplinary procedures to be revised and more thorough training to be provided about the consequences of whistleblower retaliation, and the OSC dispatched three memoranda to federal agencies on Feb. 1 to remind them about both their new and existing responsibilities.
A Supreme Court case could clarify the legal protections for whistleblowers. The ruling could help employees in Florida understand their rights when they believe that they need to report corporate misconduct. The case involves a former employee of a real estate investment trust. He claimed that he was fired after reporting violations of Sarbanes-Oxley securities laws to senior management.
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.
Florida employees might have heard about whistleblowers in the news and wondered what protections could be available for them if they have observed something illegal in their workplace. Different industries have different standards and offer different protections. However, there are a few overall rules that most employees should observe.
Boca Raton residents may be interested to learn that a U.S. senator has accused the Pentagon's internal watchdog office of changing the results of whistleblower retaliation investigations. The allegations were made on April 27.
Florida residents may be interested to learn about a workplace discrimination case involving an Amtrak whistleblower. In early January, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration released a statement confirming that a longtime Amtrak employee had been awarded $892,551 in damages after he was fired for raising safety concerns. OSHA also ordered Amtrak to reinstate the employee to his former position or to an equivalent one.
As Florida workers probably know, employees who report actions by an employer that are illegal have protection under the law against adverse consequences of so doing. Protections may include not only being fired from the job because of that action but other consequences such as harassment or other ways of retaliation.
A ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit found that whistleblower provisions in the False Claims Act protect an individual from retaliation even if a lawsuit is not a distinct possibility. Originally, individuals were protected when they took action to further a claim under the act. However, the distinct possibility criteria was added prior to 2009, and it held that a retaliation suit was only merited if a viable action was to be taken under the FCA.
The U.S. Department of Energy said it was improving protections for whistleblowers after a July report from the Government Accountability Office featured two employees who claimed they were retaliated against. For its report, the GAO studied 87 whistleblower cases and conducted interviews at multiple job sites. It found that the Energy Department rarely held contractors accountable for illegal retaliation even though it had the means to do so.