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Federal contractor? You’re subject to False Claims Act

The False Claims Act prohibits federal contractors from firing whistleblowers who report employer wrongdoing.

Whistleblowers protected by state and federal law

Under the federal False Claims Act, employees who report alleged fraud in the spending of federal money are protected from retaliation for doing so. If a jury concludes the employer retaliated, the worker is entitled to back and front pay, plus other damages.

Beware retaliation against whistleblowers

Think twice before disciplining or otherwise punishing an employee who has reported workplace wrongdoing. Whistleblower protection remains in force regardless of the merits of the employee’s allegations.

Review prior complaints before terminating

Before approving any recommendation to terminate a worker, review HR records to see if the worker has filed any discrimination or harassment complaints. Ensure the recommendation wasn’t motivated by retaliation.

Follow up after discrimination complaint to ensure there’s no retaliation

Don’t just assume you have fixed a discrimination and harassment problem that was uncovered when someone complained about a supervisor. Check back regularly with the employee who complained to make sure she isn’t experiencing retaliation.

Workers’ comp retaliation or a legitimate discharge?

Firing someone shortly after he makes a workers’ compensation claim means risking a retaliation lawsuit. To defend, the employer must show the court that there was a legitimate, unrelated reason for the termination.

Firing whistleblower? Be clear about timing

Employers should make sure to note exactly when they terminate a whistleblower. Then they should challenge any whistleblower retaliation complaints filed more than 30 days after that date.

Retaliation claim can live on long after original harassment claim is resolved

Employees who allege harassment are protected from retaliation for filing their complaints. Punishing such an employee can amount to illegal retaliation. Even something as minor as assigning more work for the same pay can look like retaliation.

OK to punish insulting language in complaint

HR specialists and managers know they can’t punish a worker for complaining about discrimination or many other internal complaints, including whistleblowing. But that doesn’t mean your hands are tied when the complaint itself is delivered in an outrageous way.

Retaliation claim can stick even if bias claim fails

One of the worst mistakes an employer can make is to punish a worker for a baseless discrimination complaint. Retaliating may give that worker a winning lawsuit claim even if the original discrimination case had no chance.