The whistleblower law encourages public employees to report the misconduct of employers to the appropriate agencies. While these laws protect employees who file legitimate claims, many whistleblowers face retaliatory conduct from the employer after proceeding with a qui tam action.
What are West Virginia’s Whistleblower Laws?
A whistleblower action is the official term for when an employee reports illegal or unsafe actions that they have witnessed at their place of employment. Typically, whistleblower actions are made against the employer because they often involve accusations of discrimination, fraud, or unsafe working conditions. The action can be a lawsuit brought to a court or a complaint filed with a government agency, like the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA).
Who Can Bring a Whistleblower Action?
Most whistleblower actions are brought by employees of the company that has been accused of some sort of criminal, legislative, or regulatory wrongdoing. Employees have inside information about what a company or employer is doing, so it makes sense that most of these claims come from the people who are working there. However, almost anyone with a connection to the employer can bring a whistleblower claim. For example, if a third-party vendor who delivers stock to a retail store sees unsafe working conditions there, then that vendor can “blow the whistle” despite not being employed there.
Our attorneys are aggressive advocates of our clients’ rights. Therefore, when a client has actively pursued their right to file a legitimate whistleblower claim, we assert their right to be protected from wrongful retaliatory conduct such as:
- Wrongful termination: We represent employees who have been wrongfully discharged after asserting their right to file a whistleblower claim.
- Other whistleblower retaliation: We also represent employees who have endured retaliatory conduct at work after filing a whistleblower claim. Retaliatory conduct may include discrimination, decreased compensation, reduction in benefits, disciplinary actions, or other wrongful conduct.
Valid whistleblower claims involve reporting an employer for waste or misuse of public funds, or for other wrongdoings such as a violation of regulations or other laws. When an employee has, in good faith, reported their employer for waste or wrongdoing, the employer is barred from treating the employee unfairly or wrongfully terminating the employee. Our attorneys understand the state and federal protections afforded to employees under whistleblower laws.
Outcome of a Successful Whistleblower Claim
You might be asking yourself if it is even worth the trouble to file a whistleblower claim. What can you gain from it if you do go through with the action? It is normal to wonder what benefits there will be to a successful whistleblower claim and whether you should bother filing one if those benefits are less than you expected. Our Charleston whistleblower attorneys are here to help you understand what can be gained from a whistleblower claim, so you can feel confident when you file it.
A successful whistleblower claim can bring these benefits:
- Compensation: Depending on what your employer did and how it affected you, it might be possible to secure compensation through your whistleblower claim. For example, if you were fired due to discrimination, then you could be given a monetary award that pays for your lost wages.
- Workplace changes: A whistleblower action can trigger an outside investigation of your employer’s workplace protocols. The outcome of that investigation could bring a wave of positive workplace changes, like more employee ethics training requirements if you blew the whistle after witnessing widespread sexual harassment in your workplace.
- Protections for other workers: Some whistleblower cases make a major impact not just in the whistleblower’s workplace but also in their entire industry. Employment law updates could come about due to your whistleblower action, which ultimately benefit future workers and people in other workplaces like yours.
We represent clients across West Virginia and surrounding areas, providing compassionate client service and relentless advocacy in and out of the courtroom.