Austin Whistleblower Attorney
Whistleblowers play an essential role in helping to uncover government or corporate wrongdoing. However, in many situations, whistleblowers may face substantial difficulties, both in choosing to bring forward allegations of wrongdoing and also in coping with the consequences of their decision. For this reason, state and federal laws have put in place substantial protections to help ensure that whistleblowers have the support they need after exposing information.
The preservation of the rights and protections afforded to whistleblowers is vital to the advancement of social progress and upholding the law. As such, when a person is treated unfairly after exposing wrongdoing, our Austin whistleblower lawyers at The Melton Law Firm, believe that he or she should be able to take action against the employer or person who has retaliated against him or her.
Do I Need a Whistleblower Lawyer?
Reporting your employer’s fraud isn’t easy. Whistleblowing is essential for holding corporations or government entities accountable for their wrongdoings. Without whistleblowers, companies would get away with whatever malfeasance that is best for their business. If you have done the right thing and reported the fraud that you saw, however, it can lead to your employer retaliating and even firing you. That’s why you need a skilled attorney to help you understand federal and state whistleblower laws and your rights. These laws are complicated. Not all workers are protected under whistleblower laws, and different claims have different deadlines for filing.
You shouldn’t have to decide between doing the right thing and keeping your job. It’s illegal for your employer to demote, threaten, or discriminate against you for whistleblowing. A lawyer can help fight for reinstatement, compensation for lost pay, and even more. An experienced whistleblower attorney can protect your legal rights as a whistleblower.
Why Choose The Melton Law Firm?
At The Melton Law Firm, we will work tirelessly to protect you after you have done the right thing. Understanding federal and state laws can be confusing without the right experience and knowledge. You don’t want just anyone handling your claim. You want a law firm that values experience, service, and results. John F. Melton has built a reputation in the Austin community as a trusted and effective whistleblower attorney. He genuinely cares about his clients and firmly believes that employees deserve to be protected for doing the right thing.
John F. Melton has been Board Certified in Labor and Employment Law in Texas since 2008 and is also a Fellow Member of the Texas Bar Foundation. He has consistently been named a Super Lawyer since 2011. The Melton Law Firm has the resources, experience, and knowledge required to tackle the most challenging whistleblower cases. John F. Melton understands how important your job is to you, and he will fight aggressively to make sure you are protected.
When it comes to whistleblowing, there are many legal protections in place to protect workers. As a result, it may be possible for someone to file a legal claim related to the following matters:
- Qui Tam
- Texas Whistle-Blower Claims
- Nursing Home
- Hospital Workers
- Refusal to Perform an Illegal Act
When a person’s rights have been violated after they adhered to the law or exposed others’ illegal activity, he or she deserves to be protected and pursue compensation for the harm they have suffered.
What Types of Fraud are Covered Under Whistleblower Laws?
In Texas and the United States, there are several types of fraud that are covered under whistleblower laws, including the following:
- Unlawful billing
- Failure to comply with a government contract
- Tax fraud or tax evasion
- Misrepresentation of income
- Ponzi schemes
- Tax underpayment
- Lack of quality control
- Insider trading
- Payments to healthcare professionals from pharmaceutical companies in order to promote or purchase their drug
- Securities and commodities trading fraud
- Accounting fraud
- False statements regarding a public company’s financial reports
- Lying to corporate auditors
These are just a few examples of the types of fraud that are covered under whistleblower laws. The False Claims Act is a federal law that makes it illegal for an individual or company to defraud government programs. It lists several categories of fraud, which include: healthcare fraud, pharmaceutical fraud, defense contractor fraud, information technology fraud, construction fraud, and financial fraud.
When to Report Fraud
It is important to report fraud as quickly as possible. The statute of limitations on whistleblower laws is relatively short. You don’t want to have your claim invalidated because you ran out of time. Also, there are more incentives available to you if you report fraud quickly. Reward amounts are determined partially by looking at when you were aware of the fraud and when you reported it.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to blow the whistle on your employer, which makes reporting fraud quickly very hard to do. If you’re not sure about reporting the information or whether or not you would be protected under whistleblower laws, a qualified attorney at The Melton Law Firm can help answer any questions you may have.
Texas Law Protections
Texas is a very employer-friendly state. Employment in Texas is “at-will,” which means an employee can be terminated for any reason and without any warning. This makes it extremely difficult for employees to file claims against their employer for termination. There are exceptions to at-will employment because not every reason to terminate an employee is legal.
In Texas, the reason for termination can’t violate public policy. This means an employer can’t fire an employee for refusing to do something illegal. This kind of claim requires that the employee prove that the only reason the employer fired them was that the employee refused to perform the unlawful act. The Melton Law Firm can help make your case stronger against an employer and better your chances of winning.
In addition to Texas laws, there are also statutory protections that protect a whistleblower when reporting specific activities. Federal laws protect reporting activities such as sexual harassment, unlawful pollution, or any other sort of violation of the law.
The Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 protects federal government employees from any retaliation by their employers for reporting information about illegal activities that happen at work. For a worker to be protected under this act, the employee must have a good-faith belief that the employer is breaking the law. The employee must also disclose the information to either the employer or some other federal agency. It’s important to note that an employee has 30 days to file a complaint about employer retaliation to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Compensation for Whistleblower Claims
Whistleblowers ensure that companies are operating honestly. Reporting or objecting to illegal actions, fraud, or abuse shouldn’t damage your career. In fact, Congress has several laws that protect and reward whistleblowers. It recognizes that without whistleblowers, companies can continue to be corrupt. Some of these rewards include the following:
- Award: 10-30% of the sanctions collected
- Punitive Damages: Damages for reckless disregard for the rights of the whistleblower
- Reinstatement: The employer will give back the position the employee had lost
- Back pay: This includes any lost wages and benefits
- Compensatory or Special Damages: Emotional distress, personal humiliation, damage to reputation, or any non-economic harm that resulted from the employer’s retaliation
- Front Pay in Lieu of Reinstatement: Damages for any lost future wages
Damages will vary by statute, and the damage amount may be capped. The federal government created these laws because it wanted to provide financial incentives to whistleblowers. It also wanted to protect them from retaliation so that they will always feel comfortable reporting illegal activities without being afraid.
Frequently Asked Questions
Whistleblowing is a relatively niche aspect of the law that many people have never heard of, so when they suddenly find themselves at the center of a whistleblowing claim, they often have questions. To help alleviate stress at this time, we have included the answers to some of the common questions we hear at our firm below.
How Do I Decide on a Lawyer?
Selecting the right lawyer will make a critical impact on the outcome of your case. An experienced whistleblower attorney understands what is needed to protect your interests as you hold your company accountable. Standing up and speaking the truth is rarely the convenient thing to do. If you are a whistleblower, you need an experienced attorney who is as committed and principled as you are.
When looking for a lawyer to handle your case, keep in mind the attorney’s experience with cases like yours. They may have handled various whistleblower cases, but discuss with them if they have handled cases similar to yours. Whistleblower cases span industries, and though they are all categorized by an individual holding an organization accountable, the larger organization varies. For example, if you work at a bank, a lawyer who has supported whistleblowers in cases against financial institutions may have knowledge that is particularly beneficial to you.
Can My Company Countersue?
A variety of laws across multiple industries exist to protect whistleblowers from retaliation when they step forward. Additionally, the law offers multiple protections if you are punished as a result of stepping up to hold your company accountable. If your employer punishes you in any way for being a whistleblower, this is considered retaliation. When a company or organization retaliates against an employee, it’s of the utmost importance for an employee to understand their rights so that they can defend their job.
Retaliation can take various forms which can include unwarranted discipline, demotion, docking pay, harassment, intimidation, denial of benefits, and even firing. Employer retaliation is never acceptable. If you’ve come forward as a whistleblower and your employer is attempting to hurt you by sabotaging your career, you need an advocate to handle your legal affairs. A skilled lawyer understands your rights as a whistleblower and will make sure that you are covered by the protections that the law extends to you.
How Long Until My Case is Resolved?
Each whistleblower case is different and the corresponding timeline will reflect the factors of each unique case. Some variables that could influence the timeline of a case include the nature of claims made against a company, the size and legal resources of a company, and how motivated the company or organization is to either resolve or fight the claims. If the claims that you, as a whistleblower, have brought against your company are severe in consequence and scope, the company will be even more cautious about the next steps they take. Large companies often have virtually unlimited legal resources, and since the power dynamic between you and your employer likely favors your employer, an experienced lawyer can help set you up for success in a whistleblower case. The best way to fight for your rights in a whistleblower case is to equip yourself with a lawyer as formidable as your company’s legal representation.
Talk to a Whistleblower Lawyer in Austin
At The Melton Law Firm, our dedicated legal team is fully versed in the laws regarding whistle-blowing, and we can help clients when they have been treated unfairly after exposing wrongdoing. If you need help with any legal matter relating to whistleblower laws, call (512) 330-0017 today to learn more about how we can fight to protect your rights.