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What To Do If You've Been Fired for Whistleblowing

Reporting safety hazards at work or speaking up when a coworker is being harassed is the right thing to do. Unfortunately, some employers retaliate against workers who report unlawful activity. If your employer fires you after you report workplace violations, you may be able to file a claim under whistleblower protections.

whistleblower is someone who reports unsafe or illegal activity within a company or a government agency. This can include sexual harassment, failure to pay overtime, or safety hazards.

Whistleblowers play an important role in holding companies and governments accountable for wrongdoing. Government agencies often rely on worker complaints to learn of potential violations. As a result, whistleblowing is a legally protected activity under most federal and state laws. This means that employers can't punish those who report misconduct.

Federal Whistleblower Protection

Whistleblower protection is provided in areas as varied as finance, nuclear energy, and clean air and water.

Most laws also protect you if you take advantage of your rights under the law. For example, your employer can't fire you or otherwise punish you for filing a workers' compensation claim for an on-the-job injury.

Some common federal laws protecting workers from retaliation include:

  • The False Claims Act (FCA) encourages private citizens to sue those who are defrauding the government. Whistleblowers get a percentage of the recovery if the lawsuit is successful. Employers can't retaliate against employees who file lawsuits under the FCA. Retaliatory actions include demotion, suspension, termination, or any other adverse employment action.
  • Employers can't fire you for taking leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or similar state laws.
  • The Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) protects investors from corporate financial wrongdoing. It includes whistleblower protections for employees who report financial irregularities and shareholder fraud.
  • Under the Occupational and Safety Health Act (OSH Act), your employer can't terminate your employment for reporting workplace health and safety violations.
  • Employers can't retaliate against those who report emissions violations affecting public health under the Clean Air Act.

Federal agencies play a significant role in enforcing anti-retaliation provisions:

  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enforces more than 20 federal laws providing whistleblower protection.
  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) protects workers who report workplace discrimination and harassment. EEOC whistleblower protections can help an employee who is the victim of discrimination as well as those who report discrimination against other workers.
  • The U.S. Department of Labor protects those who complain internally or to authorities about matters such as employer pay practices.

State Whistleblower Protection

Most states also have whistleblower laws. These laws also include whistleblower protections. You can learn about specific whistleblower laws in your state.


If you've been fired because of whistleblower activities, you may be able to file a lawsuit for retaliation. You may be entitled to damages, such as back pay, attorney's fees, or even job reinstatement.

Filing Deadlines

If you're going to take matters to court, you must pay attention to the statute of limitations.

The time limit to file a claim under federal law varies greatly. You have three years from the adverse employment action to file a retaliation claim under the False Claims Act. But the deadline to file a retaliation claim ranges from 30 days to 180 days under many other federal laws.

State whistleblower protection laws also have time limits for filing a retaliation lawsuit. The deadlines range from one to three years.

Your attorney can advise you on the filing deadlines.

Get Legal Help if You've Been Fired for Whistleblowing

If your employer terminates your employment for whistleblowing, you should seek legal advice. An employment law attorney can tell you whether you have a claim under state and federal law. Your attorney can also let you know the deadlines for filing wrongful termination and retaliation claims. A whistleblower retaliation claim attorney can also help you recover lost pay and the costs of litigation.

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Contact a qualified whistleblower law attorney to make sure your rights are protected.

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