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Whistleblower Laws Protect Employees
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Employers must be aware of potential claims arising under Florida’s Private Whistleblower Act. The law applies to employers with ten or more employees and protects employees who have engaged in legitimate whistleblower activities. There are three different types of whistleblower activities.
The first protection applies to employees who have disclosed, or threatened to disclose, an employer’s actions that are a violation of law, rule or regulation. Strict compliance with the Act is required. The disclosure must be in writing and under oath.
The disclosure must be made to the correct government agency. For example, reporting a wage and hour violation to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as opposed to the Department of Labor would fail to provide whistleblower protection. Reporting a violation of an own employer’s policies, as opposed to a violation of a rule, law or regulation would also leave the employee unprotected. The employee must also first give the employer written notice that he or she intends to report the employer and provide the employer an opportunity to correct the problem.
The law also prohibits an employer from taking any retaliatory personnel action against an employee because the employee has provided information to, or testified before, any appropriate governmental agency, person, or entity conduction an investigation, hearing, or inquiry into an alleged violation of law, rule, or regulation by the employer. Finally, the law protects employees who themselves refuse to participate in activities which constitute a violation of law, rule or regulation.
For example, an employee who refuses to dump toxic chemicals into a lake would be protected under the law.