If one or several of your employees has ever brought whistleblower cases against you, it’s important to keep your cool. While cases of fraud, discrimination, unpaid overtime, or any other types of labor issues are far from appealing, whistleblower retaliation cases can be much, much worse.
Laws vary by state and by the type of claim, but most areas ensure whistleblower protection for people who file safety or labor complaints against their employers. And yet 22% of people who report wrongdoing still say they’ve experienced retaliation against what they did.
Whistleblower retaliation cases can be costly, and if they prove to be true, they could result in criminal prosecution. If you are facing any kind of qui tam lawsuits, keep these basic principles in mind as you go about the rest of your daily business:
- Do not fire an employee out of retaliation. This may seem obvious, but it’s all too common for lawyers to receive excuses such as “We had to fire her because she accused us of an OSHA violation.” Whistleblower protections are there to ensure that employees can feel comfortable about voicing concerns without fear of losing their jobs.
- Do not discipline out of retaliation. You may be angry at an employee who has acted as a whistleblower, but you must treat them as fairly and equally as everyone else. In fact, you may want to consult a lawyer before you take any disciplinary action to ensure that the employee won’t be able to turn around and file whistleblower retaliation cases against you.
- Have a complaint policy in place. One of the best ways to avoid whistleblower retaliation accusations in the first place is to have a clear and open policy regarding worker complaints and how they will be handled by management. It can be helpful to even provide a past example of situations that were successfully remedied by employee intervention.
Whistleblower laws can be highly specific and highly changeable from place to place and from situation to situation. It’s always beneficial to seek the counsel of an experienced whistleblower attorney whenever you’re unsure about how to approach a situation. Make your life — and the lives of your employees — easier with a little bit of help and professional guidance.