Florida’s Whistleblower Laws and Protection for Employees for Disclosing Illegal Acts
Florida Employees (as most employees working under the jurisdiction of the United States) are protected from adverse employment action for refusing to perform an illegal activity, or otherwise, under certain circumstances, for disclosing or attempting to disclose an illegal act of the employer.
There are over 88 whistleblower laws that may protect employees from retaliation depending on what is disclosed and who is the employer. For instance, florida statutes codifies a general whistleblower statute for private employers known as 448.102. If the employer is a government state entity or state agency, the whistleblower laws are codified under Florida Statute 112.3187. Both of these statutes are highly technical and have different reporting requirements. Many times, as can be seen by an appellate brief our law firm recently filed and is awaiting an appeal decision (See: Arcadier, Biggie & Wood, PLLC, appeal brief concerning what constitutes reporting of an illegal act).
Both Statutes are complex and their interpretations are constantly being amended. Ideally, a whistleblowers should consult with an attorney prior to blowing the whistle so that the appropriate processes are followed.
In addition to the afore-cited Florida Laws, the Federal Government provides a plethora of numerous whistleblower laws which protect employees for disclosing illegal acts which fall under a specific regulation or industry. These include OSHA and failure to follow workplace safety regulations, FAA and airlines regulatory violations, SEC and Stock Exchange Regulations, Health Care, Medicare Fraud, and numerous other protections depending on the circumstances. Alongside whistleblower protections, there are additional protections available under Florida’s False Claims Act and its counterpart, the Federal False Claims Act.
A successful whistleblower is entitled to recover his damages which may include lost wages, injunctive relief (such as getting your job back), attorney fees, costs, punitive damages, and others.
It should once again be emphasized, procedurally, whistleblower cases are highly technical, and an experienced attorney in labor and employment law should be consulted.