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What is a whistleblower and when can I become one?

Posted by Anita F. O'Meara, Esq. | Jul 14, 2021 | 0 Comments

If you have ever seen your employer doing something wrong, you can report their actions and hold them liable for their mistakes. An employee who exposes an employer's wrongful actions is called a whistleblower. In Pennsylvania, the law protects both private and public employees from suffering consequences for reporting injustices.

What types of reporting qualify?

You cannot file a report against your employer for petty actions or for the sole purpose of getting them in trouble. For a whistleblower report to be valid, the employer must have:

  • Violated a federal or state statute or regulation
  • Violated city ordinances or regulations
  • Violated a code of conduct or ethics
  • Committed actions that resulted in substantial abuse, misuse, destruction or loss of taxpayer funds or resources

For a report to be in good faith, the employee must have facts that back up their story. Also, an employee will not get protection if they based their claim on rumors.

Ensuring your protection

After an employee makes a report, the employer may have to pay fees, sanctions or remediation costs. Nobody likes to face punishment, so the employer won't be happy with the person that reported them. That is why whistleblower laws exist in the first place. The law protects employees from:

  • Termination
  • Suspension
  • Withholding of pay or benefits
  • Discrimination
  • Harassment
  • Threats

The law in Pennsylvania also protects employees who are asked by an appropriate authority to participate in an investigation against an employer.

Your right as an employee

If the employer retaliates against you for speaking out, you have the right to file a civil lawsuit against them within 180 days after the retaliation. The court can fine the employer with a maximum of $500 and award you reinstatement, back pay, damages and reasonable attorney's fees. Reporting any unlawful activity is in the best interest of everyone, so you should never be scared or doubtful about doing it.

About the Author

Anita F. O'Meara, Esq.

PRACTICE AREAS: Estate Planning, ADministration and litigation, and Commercial litigation Biography:  Anita Fulwiler O'Meara concentrates on providing estate planning and probate services throughout Southeaster Pennsylvania, including Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, and Montgomery, counties, wit...


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