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Whistleblower Claims

WHISTLEBLOWER CLAIMS

Any employer that retaliates against an employee who has engaged in whistle-blowing activity, by reporting what he or she reasonably believes is criminal activity, may have violated the law. An employee fired for reporting criminal activity may have a common law tort claim for retaliatory discharge. Several other Illinois or Federal statutes may also provide an whistleblower with certain protections. If you or a loved one believe that you have been or are about to be fired or retaliated against by your employer for whistle-blowing, call Brian J. Graber, Ltd., at (312) 291-4648 for a free consultation.

Whistleblower laws are complex. You will need the skills of an experienced attorney to assist you in gathering the evidence necessary to prove that your employer violated the law. Some of the possible whistleblower laws your employer may have violated include the following:

RETALIATORY DISCHARGE

Illinois recognizes a common law tort cause of action against an employer who fires an employee for reporting criminal activity. If you reported what you reasonably believed to be criminal activity to your employer and/or to law enforcement authorities and your employer fires you for reporting that criminal activity, you may have a claim for the tort of retaliatory discharge. Your employer must terminate your employment for the tort of retaliatory discharge to apply. Courts have generally found the tort of retaliatory discharge applies when an employer fires an employee in the following kinds of cases:

  1. Reporting the criminal acts of a co-worker or supervisor to management and/or law enforcement.
  2. Reporting workplace safety violations to your employer and/or law enforcement.
  3. Reporting nursing home abuse or neglect to your employer and/or law enforcement.
  4. Reporting heath code violations to your employer and/or law enforcement.
  5. A teacher or child care worker reporting an incident of child abuse to his/her employer and/or law enforcement.
  6. Reporting that your employer is pressuring you to commit perjury in providing a statement or testimony to law enforcement, governmental administrative bodies, and/or to a court.

The potential whistle-blowing activity protected by the common law tort of retaliatory discharge is too long to list. Certain elements need to be proven to successfully prosecute a claim of retaliatory discharge. You will need the services of an experienced attorney. If your employer fired you because you engaged in whistle-blowing activity, by reporting what you reasonably believed to be criminal activity to your employer and/or law enforcement, you may have a claim for retaliatory discharge. Contact Brian J. Graber, Ltd., at (312) 291-4648, for a free consultation.

WHISTLEBLOWER ACT

Fed up with employers retaliating against employees for disclosing what they reasonably believe to be a violation of Illinois or federal law, rules, or regulations, the State of Illinois passed the Whistleblower Act, 740 ILCS 174/1, et seq. The Whistleblower Act provides employees with a statutory cause of action against their employers in certain circumstances. The Whistleblower Act only protects employees who engage in the following conduct:

  1. Disclosing information in a court, an administrative hearing, or before a legislative commission or committee, or any other proceeding, where the employee has reasonable cause to believe that the information discloses a violation of a State or federal law, rule, or regulation.
  2. Disclosing information to a government or law enforcement agency, where the employee has reasonable cause to believe that the information discloses a violation of a State or Federal law, rule, or regulation.
  3. Refusing to participate in an activity that would result in a violation of a State or federal law, rule, or regulation, including, but not limited to, violations of the Freedom of Information Act.

If your employer retaliates against you for engaging in any of the above-described conduct, you may have a cause of action against your employer for violating the Whistleblower Act. The Whistleblower Act is broader than the tort of retaliatory discharge described above because the Whistleblower Act covers retaliatory conduct short of actual termination of employment. If you believe that your employer has retaliated against you in violation of the Whistleblower Act, contact Brian J. Graber, Ltd., at (312) 291-4648 for a free consultation.

NURSING HOME CARE ACT – WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION

Nursing home employees with knowledge a nursing home’s violations laws and regulations may be protected from retaliatory action for whistle-blowing activity under the Whistleblower Protection provisions of the Nursing Home Care Act. 210 ILCS 45/3-810.

It may be a violation of 210 ILCS 45/3-813(b) for a nursing home to take any retaliatory action against an employee of the nursing home, including a nursing home administrator, because the employee does any of the following:

1.  Discloses or threatens to disclose to a supervisor or a public body (usually Illinois Department of Public Health) any activity, inaction, policy, or practices instituted by the facility that an employee reasonably believes is in violation a law;

2.  Provides information to or testifies before a public body (usually Illinois Department of Public Health) conducting an investigation, hearing, or inquiry into any violation of a law, rule, or regulation by a nursing home administrator;

3.  Assists or participates in a proceeding to enforce the provisions of this Act (Nursing Home Care Act).

An employee must engage at least one of the three listed whistle-blowing activities listed above  in order to have protection under the Whistleblower Protections of the Nursing Home Act.

Under 210 ILCS 45/3-810(a), “retaliatory action” means a reprimand, discharge, suspension, demotion, denial of promotion, or transfer, or change in the terms or conditions of employment for any employee of the facility that is taken for engaging in the protected activity described above. This means that the employer must take retaliatory action against the employee for engaging in the above described whistleblower activity.

If you would like to learn more about your rights under the Whistleblower Protection of the Nursing Home Care Act, contact Brian J. Graber, Ltd., at (312) 291-4648 for a free consultation.

STATE OFFICIALS AND EMPLOYEE ETHICS ACT – WHISTLEBLOWER PROVISIONS

State of Illinois employees may have protections under the State Officials and Employee Ethics Act’s Whistleblower Provisions.

An officer, a member, a State employee, or a State agency shall not take any retaliatory action against a State employee because the state employee does any of the following:

1.  Discloses or threatens to disclose to a supervisor or to a public body an activity, policy, or practice of any officer, member, State agency, or other State employee that the State employee reasonably believes is a violation of a law, rule, or regulation.

2.  Provides information to or testifies before any public body conducting an investigation, having or inquiring into any violation of law, rule, or regulation by any officer, member, State agency, or other state employee.

3.  Assists or participates in a proceeding to enforce the provisions of this Act.

Retaliatory action means the reprimand, discharge, suspension, demotion, denial of promotion or transfer, or change in the terms or conditions of employment of any State employees, that was taken for a State employee’s whistle-blowing activity described above.

If you would like to learn more about your rights under the Whistleblower provisions of the State Officials and Employee Ethics Act, contact Brian J. Graber, Ltd., at (312) 291-4648 for a free consultation.

FEDERAL WHISTLEBLOWER CLAIMS

SARBANES-OXLEY ACT, 18 U.S.C. 1514A a/k/a SOX WHISTLEBLOWER CLAIM

The Sabanes-Oxley Act, often referred to as SOX prohibits certain employers from discharging, retaliating, discriminating, and/or harassing certain employees because that employee provides information to a supervisor or any other person working for that employer (who has the authority to investigate, discover, or terminate the misconduct) regarding conduct which the employee reasonably believes constitutes a violation of several enumerated laws or any provision of Federal law relating to fraud against shareholders.

The SOX whistleblower provisions serve to encourage and protect employees who report fraudulent activity that can damage innocent investors in publicly traded companies.

Generally, certain employees may be protected from retaliation for reporting six categories of employer conduct such as:

(1)  18 U.S.C. 1341 (Mail Fraud);

(2)  18 U.S.C. 1343 (Wire Fraud);

(3)  18 U.S.C. 1344 (Banking Fraud);

(4)  18 U.S.C. 1348 (Securities Fraud);

(5)  Reporting any violation of any rule or regulation of the Securities Exchange Commission;

(6)  Reporting any violation of Federal law relating to fraud against shareholders.

If you believe that you have been fired, retaliated against, discriminated against, or harassed for reporting fraudulent conduct in violation of SOX you should contact an experiences litigation attorney immediately. The law severely limits the time you have to bring a claim against your employer for SOX violations. Generally, under 18 U.S.C. 1514A an employee must bring a SOX whistleblower claim by filing a complaint with OSHA not later than 180 days after the date on which the violation occurs, or the date on which the employee became aware of the violation.

If you would like to learn more about your rights under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, contact Brian J. Graber, Ltd., at (312) 291-4648 for a free consultation.

SURFACE TRANSPORTATION ASSISTANCE ACT – WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTIONS, 49 U.S.C. 31105

This Federal law prevents employers involved in the trucking and/or over-the-road freight hauling business from retaliating against any employee by terminating their employment, disciplining an employee, or otherwise discriminating against an employee in the terms and conditions of their employment because of that employee engaged in any of the following protected conduct:

(1)  The employee filed a complaint or began a proceeding related to a violation of a    commercial motor vehicle safety of security regulation, standard, or order or has or will testify in any such proceeding;

(2)  The employer perceives that the employee has failed or is about to file a complaint or has begun or is about to begin a proceeding related to a violation of a commercial motor vehicle safety or security regulation, standard, or order;

(3)  The employee refuses to operate a vehicle because the operation violates a regulation, standard or order of the United States related to commercial motor vehicle safety, health, or security;

(4)  The employee refuses to operate a vehicle because the employee has a reasonable apprehension of serious injury to the employee or the public because of the vehicle’s hazardous safety of security condition.

 

This whistleblower provision broadly defines “employee” as a driver of a commercial motor vehicle, including an independent contractor when personally operating a commercial motor vehicle, a mechanic, and a freight handler.

Whistleblower claims are complex and you will need the services of an experiences litigation attorney. 49 U.S.C. 31105(b)(1) requires that an employee file any whistleblower complaint with the Secretary of Labor not later than 180 days after the alleged violation occurred. It is extremely important that you seek the help of an experienced attorney as soon as you experience retaliation for engaging in any of the the above described protected activity because the the tight time constraints impose by the law.

If you would like to learn more about your rights as a whistleblower and the protections of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act – Whistleblower provisions and your rights and protections under other Whistleblower laws, contact Brian J. Graber, Ltd., at (312) 291-4648 for a free consultation.

WENDELL H. FORD AVIATION INVESTMENT AND REFORM ACT FOR 21ST CENTURY, PROTECTION FOR EMPLOYEES PROVIDING AIR SAFETY INFORMATION, 49 U.S.C. 42121

No air carrier or contractor or subcontractor of an air carrier may discharge and employee or otherwise discriminate against an employee with respect to compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because the employee:

(1)  provided or caused to be provided, or is about to provide (with any knowledge of the employer) or cause to be provided to the employer or Federal Government information relating to any violation or alleged violation of any order, regulation, or standard of the Federal Aviation Administration or any other provision of Federal law relating to air carrier safety under this subtitle, 49 U.S.C. 40101, et seq., or any other law of the United States;

(2)  has filed caused to be filed, or is about to file (with any knowledge of the employer) or caused to be filed a proceeding relating to any violation or alleged violation of any order, regulation, or standard of the Federal Aviation Administration or any other provision of Federal law relating to air carrier safety under this subtitle, 49 U.S.C. 40101, et seq., or any other law of the United States;

(3)  testified or is about to testify in such a proceeding;

(4)  assisted or participated or is about to assist or participate in such a proceeding.

Whistleblower claims are very complex and you will need to services of an experienced attorney. 49 U.S.C. 42121(b)(1) requires an employee to file a whistleblower complaint with the Secretary of Labor not later than 90 days after the date on which the violation occurs. The law strictly limits the time frame you have for filing a whistleblower claim. It is extremely important to consult a competent lawyer as soon as possible to evaluate your rights and options under the law.

If you would like to learn more about your rights as a whistleblower under the Wendall H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for 21st Century, 49 U.S.C. 42121, contact Brian J. Graber, Ltd., at (312) 291-4648 for a free consultation.

FEDERAL RAILROAD SAFETY ACT (FRSA), 49 U.S.C. 20109

Prevents a railroad carrier engaged in interstate or foreign commerce, a contractor or a subcontractor of such a railroad carrier, or an officer or employee of such a railroad carrier from discriminating or retaliating against an employee for any of the following:

(1) providing information, directly causing information to be provided, or otherwise directly assisting in any investigation regarding any conduct which the employee reasonably believes constitutes a violation of any Federal law, rule, or regulation relating to railroad safety or security, or gross fraud, waste, or abuse of Federal grants or other public funds intended to be used for railroad safety or security, if the information or assistance is provided to or an investigation stemming from the provided information is conducted by – –

(A) a Federal, State, or local regulatory or law enforcement agency (including an office of the     Inspector General under the Inspector General Act of 1978);

(B) any Member of Congress, any committee of Congress, or the Government Accountability Office; or

(C) a person with supervisory authority over the employee or such other person who has the authority to investigate, discover, or terminate the misconduct;

(2) refusing to violate or assist in the violation of any Federal law, rule, or regulation relating to railroad safety or security;

(3) filing a complaint, or directly causing to be brought a proceeding related the enforcement of this part or, as applicable to railroad safety or security, 49 USC 5101, et seq., or 49 USC 5701, et seq., or testify in that proceeding;

(4) Notifying or attempting to notify, the railroad carrier or the Secretary of Transportation of a work-related personnel injury or work-related illness of an employee;

(5) cooperating with a safety or security investigation by the Secretary of Transportation, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or the National Transportation Safety Board;

(6) furnishing information to the Secretary of Transportation, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the National Transportation Safety Board, or any Federal, State, or local regulatory or law enforcement agency as to the facts relating to any accident or incident resulting in injury or death to an individual or damage to property occurring in connection with railroad transportation; or

(7) accurately reporting hours on duty pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 21101, et seq.

Under the Federal Railroad Safety Act, railroad carriers engaged in interstate or foreign commerce, or an officer or employee of such a railroad carrier, is prevented from discriminating or retaliating against an employee for any of the following:

(1) Reporting, in good faith, a hazardous safety or security condition;

(2) Refusing to work when confronted by a hazardous safety or security condition related to the performance of the employee’s duties, if –

(a) the refusal is made in good faith and no reasonable alternative to the refusal is available to the employee;

(b) a reasonable individual in the circumstances then confronting the employee would conclude that – –

(i) the hazardous condition presents an imminent danger of death or serious injury; and

(ii) the urgency of the situation does not allow sufficient time to eliminate the danger without refusal; and

(c) the employee, where possible, has notified the railroad carrier of the existence of the hazardous condition and the intention not to perform further work, or not to authorize the use of the hazardous equipment, track, or structures, unless the condition is corrected immediately or the equipment, track, or structures are repaired properly or replaced.

(3) Refusing to authorize the use of any safety-related equipment, track, or structures, if the employee responsible for the inspection or repair of the equipment, track, or structures, when the employee believes that the equipment, track, or structures are in a hazardous safety or security condition if – –

(a) the refusal is made in good faith and no reasonable alternative to the refusal is available to the employee;

(b) a reasonable individual in the circumstances then confronting the employee would conclude that – –

(i) the hazardous condition presents an imminent danger of death or serious injury; and

(ii) the urgency of the situation does not allow sufficient time to eliminate the danger without refusal; and

(c) the employee, where possible, has notified the railroad carrier of the existence of the hazardous condition and the intention not to perform further work, or not to authorize the use of the hazardous equipment, track, or structures, unless the condition is corrected immediately or the equipment, track, or structures are repaired properly or replaced.

Under the Federal Railroad Safety Act, a railroad carrier or person covered under this sections may not deny, delay, or interfere with the medical or first aid treatment of an employee who is injured during the course of employment. If transportation to a hospital is requested by an employee who is injured during the course of employment, the railroad shall promptly arrange to have the injured employee transported to the nearest hospital where the employee can receive safe appropriate medical care.

Under the Federal Railroad Safety Act, a railroad carrier or person covered under this section may not discipline, or threaten discipline to, an employee for requesting medical or first aid treatment, or for following orders or a treatment plan of a treating physician, except that a railroad carrier’s refusal to permit an employee to return to work following medical treatment shall not be considered a violation of this section if the refusal is pursuant to Federal Railroad Administration medical standards for fitness of duty or, if there are no pertinent Federal Railroad Administration standards, a carrier’s medical standards for fitness for duty. For purposes of this paragraph, the term “discipline” means to bring charges against a person in a disciplinary proceeding, suspend, terminate, place on probation, or make note of a reprimand on an employee’s record.

Whistleblower claims are very complex and you will need the services of an experienced attorney. The Federal Railroad Safety Act, 49 U.S.C 20109(d)(2)(A)(ii) requires an employee to file a whistleblower complaint with the Secretary of Labor not later than 180 days after the date on which the alleged violation occurs. The law strictly limits the time frame you have for filing a whistleblower claim under the FRSA. It is extremely important to consult a competent attorney as soon as possible to evaluate your rights and options under the law.

If you would like to learn more about your whistleblower protection rights under the Federal Railroad Safety Act, 49 U.S.C. 20109, contact Brian J. Graber, Ltd., at (312) 291-4648 for a free consultation.

SEAMAN’S PROTECTION ACT, 46 U.S.C. 2114

The Seaman’s Protection Act, 46 U.S.C. 2114, protects seamen from retaliation for reporting to the Coast Guard or another federal agency a violation of maritime safety law or regulation. The Seaman’s Protection Act protect seamen from retaliation for refusing to work when they reasonably believe an assigned task would result in serious injury or impairment of health to themselves, other seamen, or the public. The Seaman’s Protection Act, 46 U.S.C. 2114 applies to private employers and American owned vessels on Lake Michigan and the navigable waters and rivers around the Chicagoland area.

Under the Seaman’s Protection Act, 46 U.S.C. 2114 a seaman cannot be discriminated or retaliated against because – –

(1) the seaman in good faith has reported or is about to report to the Coast Guard or other appropriate Federal agency or department that the seaman believes that a violation of a maritime safety law or regulation prescribed under law or regulation has occurred;

(2) the seaman has refused to perform duties ordered by the seaman’s employer because the seaman has a reasonable apprehension or expectation that performing such duties would result in serious injury to the seaman, other seamen, or the public if – –

(a) the circumstances causing a seaman’s apprehension of serious injury must be of such a nature that a reasonable person, under similar circumstances, would conclude that there is a real danger of injury or serious impairment of health resulting from the performance of duties as ordered by the seaman’s employer; and

(b) the employee must have sought from the employer, and been unable to obtain, correction of the unsafe condition.

(3) the seaman testified in a proceeding brought to enforce a maritime safety law or regulation prescribed under that law;

(4) the seaman notified, or attempted to notify, the vessel owner or the Secretary of a work-related personal injury or work-related illness of a seaman;

(5) the seaman cooperated with a safety investigation by the Secretary or the National Transportation Safety Board;

(6) the seaman furnished information to the Secretary, the National Transportation Safety Board, or any other public official as to the facts relating to any maritime casualty resulting in injury or death to an individual or damage to property occurring in connection with vessel transportation; or

(7) the seaman accurately reported hours of duty under this part 46 U.S.C. 2101, et seq.

Whistleblower claims are very complex and you will need the services of an experienced attorney. The Seaman’s Protection Act, 46 U.S.C. 2114 requires an employee to file a whistleblower complaint with the Secretary of Labor not later than 180 days after the date on which the alleged violation occurs. The law strictly limits the time frame you have for filing a whistleblower claim. It is extremely important to consult with a competent lawyer as soon as possible to evaluate your rights and options under the law.

If you would like to learn more about your whistleblower protection rights under the Seaman’s Protection Act, 46 U.S.C. 2114, contact Brian J. Graber, Ltd., at (312) 291-4648 for a free consultation.

OTHER CLAIMS FOR WHISTLE-BLOWING AND RETALIATION

There are too many federal and Illinois laws to list that protect employees from unlawful retaliation and/or termination for reporting violations of Illinois and federal law to management and/or law enforcement agencies. If you believe that you were terminated or retaliated against for whistle-blowing, please contact Brian J. Graber, Ltd., for a free consultation.