The Whistleblower Protection Act was enacted by Congress in 1989 to protect federal employees who provided incriminating evidence against their employers from retaliation. The law provides employees with protection against wrongful termination, demotion or suspension. It also imposes penalties on employers who harass, threaten or discriminate against employees who provided information to outside authorities. The law ensures that employees who assist a governing body, provide testimony against their employer or help initiate an investigation cannot be disciplined in any way.
How to File a Whistleblower Claim if Your Rights Have Been Violated
Unfortunately, the Whistleblower Protection Act hasn’t stopped all employers from taking retaliatory action. You may be eligible to file a whistleblower claim if you meet all of the following conditions:
You have engaged in conduct that is legally protected under the federal False Claims Act. The False Claims Act allows anyone who knows about fraud against the federal government to file a lawsuit on its behalf. The person who filed the claim is entitled to a percentage of the recovery if the lawsuit is successful.
You need to demonstrate that your employer knew that you were covered under the Whistleblower Protection Act while assisting the federal government with an ongoing investigation.
You must prove that you were harassed, fired, demoted or otherwise retaliated against in direct response to your cooperation with helping the government prosecute a fraud case.
What to Do if You Have a Whistleblower Claim
If you are certain that you have suffered retaliatory action, your first step is to file a petition for civil action in the Illinois Circuit Court. This is the court that has the jurisdiction to hear the case and provide a final judgment. If you are not satisfied with the outcome, you can file an appeal using appellate procedures specific to Illinois. You have the right to retain an attorney at any stage of filing a claim. If your case is successful, you may be entitled to receive two times your back pay with interest, reinstatement of your job and seniority based on your original date of hire. Your employer may also be required to pay your legal fees.