A whistleblower is an individual who either anonymously, or in-person, brings forward confidential information that might cause harm to public or customers. The act of whistleblowing is largely protected in Illinois under the Illinois Whistleblower Act providing employees with protection against wrongful termination and harassment.
Apart from the Illinois Whistleblower Act, there is also protection provided by OSHA to employees. The OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program combines a variety of state and federal laws to ensure employees feel safe while disclosing violations at both public and private organizations. The OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program and Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA) also provide support against retaliation when supervisors and managers retaliate against employees who engage in protected activities. Some retaliatory actions include:
· Failing to provide and denying benefits, fair pay and bonus to whistleblowers and employees,
· Making threats, passing verbal comments and blacklisting employees for coming forward,
· Intimidating, harassing, mocking employees,
· Refusing entry, laying off without cause and restricting access to work.
Filing Retaliation and Whistleblower protection Claims
An employee can file a relational and whistleblower claim within five (5) years of the incident. The lawsuit needs to be filed through appropriate court. A whistleblower should seek support from an expert employment law attorney to ensure evidence is gathered and presented for claims processing. It is illegal to fire, harass, or discriminate against a whistleblower during the lawsuit. Federal employees who come forward to become part of an ongoing investigation, or refuse to be part of an activity that may cause harm to public interest are protected in Illinois under the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act. A whistleblower termination claim can result in the recovery of litigation costs, back pay, or reinstatement of an employee. However, if an employee in any manner broke the law to gather evidence, or disclose information, their claim might get rejected.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act section 11(c) can be sought to file whistleblower complaints against termination. A complaint can be filed within 30 days to 180 days, depending on the industry and statute sought. A whistleblower who’s been termination can communicate to OSHA by coming in person, send an email, or send a fax to file a complaint in any language, after which interviews and investigations start.
If you want to know more about whistleblower termination claims, make sure to schedule a free consultation by contacting the Law Office of Michael Smith to talk with an experienced employment lawyer.