It takes courage to expose unethical activity or conduct in your workplace, but those who uncover fraud, waste, and abuse do a great service for their communities. You may have reasonable fears of retaliation by your employer and damage to your reputation. Fortunately, there are both federal and state laws that protect whistleblowers from wrongful termination and compensate them for their bravery when they disclose wrongdoings.
The success of a whistleblower claim may depend greatly on which law you choose to report under. State laws can change, and whistleblower laws dictate a complex process. Experience and preparation can make the difference in the outcome of your case.
Common Types of Whistleblower Claims
The most common whistleblower lawsuits are brought by people who uncover fraud against the state or federal government. This includes false claims for payments, using false records or receipts to avoid paying the government, failure to deliver goods or services, and overcharging for goods or services. Defense contracting and healthcare industries are some businesses where these types of frauds occur, but whistleblower claims can also be made for tax fraud and environmental fraud. These types of fraud can include the violation of laws that relate to air emissions, asbestos, and hazardous wastes.
Whistleblowers are those who expose unethical activity, but also those who provide information or testify in hearings, inquiries, or investigations. Whistleblowers also include those who refuse to participate in activities or practices that they believe are fraudulent. New Jersey protects both public and private employees with the Conscientious Employee Protection Act, also known as the Whistleblower Act. Whistleblowers are also included as a protected class under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination. If you disclose or object to your fraudulent employer, you are protected from retaliation; this includes the violation of state, local, and federal laws. This means it is illegal for your employer to demote, terminate, transfer you, harass you, or exhibit intimidating or abusive behaviors towards you after you have filed a claim. Other adverse employer actions include denial of overtime, promotions, or benefits, reducing your pay or hours.
Compensation for Whistleblowers
Whistleblowers who help expose fraud against state or federal government entities are generally compensated with a percentage of the amount that was recovered by a successful claim. The percentage is determined by the court and varies by how much the whistleblower contributed to the positive outcome of the case.
If your employer retaliates against you because of a whistleblower claim, you can recover your position if you were wrongfully terminated, plus two times the amount of back pay owed to you, this also includes interest. You may also be eligible for punitive damages.
Filing a Whistleblower Claim
Before filing a whistleblower claim, it is crucial to be sure of the strength of your case to ensure your protection. A claim must be brought within the statute of limitations, which is six years from the date of a violation or three years after the government was informed, or should have known, about the violation. In New Jersey, the Whistleblower Act says that your supervisor must be notified of the violation and given a reasonable opportunity to correct the situation, unless you have reason to fear physical harm for disclosing the violation.
Although you are not required to hire an attorney to file a claim, it is highly advisable to consult with an experienced employment lawyer before taking on the complex whistleblower process.
South Jersey Employment Lawyers at the Burnham Law Group, LLC Help Protect Whistleblowers
Whistleblower claims can be risky and stressful, so it is best to speak to an experienced attorney. Our skilled South Jersey employment lawyers at the Burnham Law Group, LLC will fight to protect your rights and help you obtain maximum compensation. Contact us online or call us at 856-751-5505 to schedule a free consultation about your case. Located in Marlton and Somers Point, New Jersey, we also serve clients in Atlantic County, Burlington County, Camden County, and throughout South Jersey.