WHISTLE-BLOWER & Retaliation CLAIMS – Jacksonville Lawyers
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Under the federal and state civil rights laws, which prohibit discrimination on the basis of factors including race, national origin, religion, sex, pregnancy, age, and disability, employers may not retaliate against an employee for having complained of alleged unlawful discrimination based on one of these factors. In order to be protected from retaliation, the employee must make a good faith and reasonable complaint, regardless of whether the underlying complaint is found to be valid. Furthermore, employers may not retaliate against an employee for filing a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEOC), or for having participated in an EEOC investigation.
Employers are also prohibited from retaliating against employees who request or take leave that is protected by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and employees who complain about unlawful pay practices such as overtime or minimum wage violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Similarly, Florida employers may not retaliate against an employee for filing a workers compensation claim or for otherwise asserting their rights under the law of workers compensation. The Florida Private Whistle-Blower law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who complain about, or refuse to participate in, something that the employer is doing that violates a government law, rule or regulation. The Florida Public Whistle-Blower law protects public employees who complain to the appropriate authority about matters including illegal acts, gross incompetence, mismanagement of funds, etc. Finally, public employees are protected by the free speech clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Public employers may not retaliate against employees who speak out on a matter of concern to the general public, in a manner that is not unduly disruptive, so long as the subject is not something that relates to the employee’s job duties.
With regard to retaliation law, the question of whether any given complaint is protected, and the question of whether there is sufficient evidence to prove an unlawful retaliatory motive, are fact intensive inquiries that will depend on the exact circumstances in any given case. Employees who believe that they may have a claim for unlawful retaliation should consult with counsel.