How The Florida Whistleblower Act Protects Your Rights

whistleblower retaliation at work

Florida law protects employees who come forward to report violations of law by public and private employers or independent contractors that create a substantial and specific danger to the public’s health, safety, or welfare.

The Florida Whistleblower law makes it illegal to retaliate against an employee or contractor who reports public corruption or illegal or unethical activity. A whistleblower who has been subjected to retaliation or other adverse personnel action may pursue monetary compensation and other legal relief from their employer.

If you have blown the whistle on corruption, illegal activity, or gross waste at your workplace in Florida and been punished for it, the employment law attorneys at Cruz Law Firm, P.A., can seek compensation for the illegal actions taken against you. If you know of corruption that should be brought to light, our whistleblower attorneys can protect your rights and help you come forward.

The legal team at Cruz Law Firm, P.A., has nearly 20 years of combined legal experience and has litigated more than 100 employment rights cases in federal and state courts across Florida. Contact a Tallahassee whistleblower attorney at Cruz Law today for a free consultation about whistleblower protections and the relief you may seek if you have been punished for speaking out. We handle Florida Whistleblower’s Act cases from Tallahassee, Jacksonville, and across the Florida Panhandle. Phone (850) 701-8838 today.

Key Provisions of the Florida Whistleblower Act

Florida’s whistleblower act (Fla. Stat. § 112.3187) allows individuals to report public employers to government authorities if they know of illegal, unethical, fraudulent, or harmful activity by the employer or others working for a public agency. Like other state and federal whistleblower laws, Florida’s whistleblower law makes it illegal to take adverse action against people based on the person’s disclosure. A separate law (Fla. Stat. § 448.102) extends these protections to Florida’s private sector employees.

The statute establishing Florida’s whistleblower law states that it is the Legislature’s intent to prevent whistleblower retaliation against an employee or independent contractor who files a claim against an agency alleging improper activity, including:

  • Violations of the law that create a substantial and specific danger to the public’s health, safety, or welfare
  • Improper use of governmental office
  • Gross mismanagement, malfeasance, misfeasance
  • Gross waste of funds, including suspected or actual Medicaid fraud or abuse
  • Any other abuse or gross neglect of duty on the part of an agency, public officer, or employee.
  • Criminal conduct.

Individuals protected by the law from adverse actions include employees and others who:

  • File complaints
  • Are asked to participate in an investigation, hearing, or other inquiry connected to a complaint
  • Refuse to participate in any prohibited adverse action against a whistleblower.

Prohibited adverse actions against a whistleblower include:

  • Discharge (firing)
  • Suspension
  • Transfer
  • Demotion
  • Discipline
  • Withholding of bonuses
  • Reduction in salary or benefits
  • Any other retaliatory action or managerial abuses against an employee within the terms and conditions of employment by an agency or independent contractor.

An individual who makes a whistleblower’s disclosure about a state agency must make their complaint to a governmental investigative body, such as the state Office of the Chief Inspector General, or the agency’s inspector general’s office or other appropriate agency.

If the complaint is about wrongdoing at a local government agency, community college district, or school system, the whistleblower is to contact the CEO of the agency, district, or another appropriate agency about the suspected violation.

Individuals may also report issues via the Florida whistleblower’s hotline at:

  • (800) 543-5353
  • (850) 922-1060 in Tallahassee.

How a Whistleblower Rights Protection Lawyer Can Help

It’s no simple matter to stand up and make whistleblower claims. Despite state and federal laws, whistleblowers continue to face retaliatory action for taking a stand against powerful government officials, corporations, and other employers.

Many people who file whistleblower complaints against their employers have made repeated attempts to resolve the issues internally without success. Some of them pursue complaints as “former employees” having quit or been fired for their pursuit of change.

If you are ready to blow the whistle on your employer’s unlawful or improper activity, the legal team at Cruz Law is ready to stand with you.

A whistleblower attorney at Cruz Law can explain your legal options for filing a report with authorities and ensure you know what to expect when you become a whistleblower. We can help you help you file your written and signed complaint. After you have reported your employer, we will counsel and advocate for you in all of your interactions with government regulators and investigators as your report moves forward.

If you have suffered retaliation for filing a whistleblower’s complaint, we can file a legal claim on your behalf, seeking damages for the retaliation you have experienced.

An employee or job applicant at a state agency who has suffered retaliation for filing a whistleblower complaint must file a retaliation complaint with the Florida Commission on Human Rights within 60 days of the act of retaliation. A local government employee must also file a complaint within 60 days if their employer has established an administrative procedure for handling such complaints.

Initially, your case will be referred to mediation. During mediation sessions, a trained mediator will seek to help the parties negotiate a resolution to the issue.

If the whistleblower issue cannot be resolved through mediation, the Commission will investigate whether there is adequate evidence of unlawful acts on the part of your employer.

If the Commission agrees there’s reason to believe illegal retaliation against you took place or if your local government employer has no policy for investigating complaints of unlawful retaliation, we can help you file a lawsuit, which may seek:

  • Reinstatement, including full fringe benefits and seniority rights, if you were wrongfully terminated
  • Back pay if you missed work because of the nature of your employer’s retaliation.
  • Lost future earnings if you were wrongfully terminated or denied a promotion and reinstatement is not feasible.
  • Compensation for your court costs and attorney’s fees.

We can seek an injunction against your employer to prevent future acts or policy changes directed at harming you.

Upon filing a complaint, you will be temporarily reinstated to your former position or to an equivalent position if you were discharged, pending the outcome of the complaint. This is not available to an employee of a municipality.

Contact an Experienced Tallahassee Whistleblower Retaliation Lawyer

tiffany r cruzIf you have a potential whistleblower complaint against your employer or have been punished for filing a legitimate complaint, Cruz Law can help you make a stand. Our whistleblower attorneys can help you file a complaint and seek legal relief if your employer has taken adverse action against you for engaging in protected whistleblowing activity.

Our Tallahassee law firm seeks justice for workers like you in Lee County, Jacksonville, and Duval County, and across the Florida Panhandle. We can provide guidance about your legal options. Contact us now to speak with a compassionate, experienced whistleblower rights attorney.

At Cruz Law Firm, P.A., we represent employees in Tallahassee, Jacksonville, and throughout the Florida Panhandle. We’ll fight to protect your employment rights, from workplace discrimination and sexual harassment to wrongful termination and whistleblower claims. Let us put our experience to work for you.