Various agencies of the federal government rely on whistleblowers to report violations of the law. This mainly involves people coming forward with new information concerning financial crimes or illegal attempts to collect money from the government.
Due to the immense financial stakes involved in these cases, it is understandable that people may be hesitant to come forward. They may fear reprisal in the workplace or even feel as though their lives are in danger. Fortunately, federal law prohibits any form of retaliation against whistleblowers.
An attorney could help to provide protections for whistleblowers in Columbia. This includes the gathering of information from a safe space, submitting proper reports to the correct agencies, and informing whistleblowers of their rights under the law.
A variety of federal agencies are dedicated to the idea of investigating violations of federal financial laws. If people believe that they have witnessed a violation of these laws, they have the right and ability to come forward as whistleblowers.
Unfortunately, many of these cases are complex, and gathering a complete picture of the illegal activity may be difficult. One role that an attorney in Columbia can play is as an investigator of illegal activity. Many witnesses to this activity are employees of companies that are violating the law. It is understandable that these individuals may not want to perform a more in-depth investigation of their suspicions under fear of reprisal. For this reason, a lawyer can take an initial inkling of wrongdoing and perform a total examination of the facts on a person’s behalf to determine if serving as a whistleblower is possible.
While an attorney’s services can help to shield whistleblowers while they investigate illegal activity on their own, another layer of protection comes from federal law. As a general rule, it is illegal for any party to retaliate against a whistleblower or any other party assisting in a federal investigation.
For example, the Dodd-Frank Act governs investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) into investment crimes. The law also prohibits retaliation by employers against employees who come forward as whistleblowers. Specifically, Section 21F prohibits employers from firing, demoting, or otherwise punishing any employee who cooperates in any way with an SEC investigation. Employers who violate this law may face additional penalties under the law.
Sadly, with millions of dollars often at stake in federal investigations, many employers may face pressure to prevent whistleblowers. Not only is this activity illegal, but it also can give rise to a private cause of action for employees to demand remedies.
These workers have the right to file lawsuits in federal court that can demand payment of back wages or reinstatement at work. They may also demand the payment of court costs and attorney’s fees. In this way, whistleblower protections can still apply even if retaliation has already occurred.
Coming forward as a whistleblower can feel intimidating. After all, companies and private individuals will fight to protect their finances. Still, federal laws prohibit any retaliation against a person who serves as a whistleblower or who cooperates with a government investigation.
An attorney in Columbia could provide essential support during this time. This may include taking the lead in an initial gathering of facts, explaining the federal laws that prohibit retaliation, and helping whistleblowers to file lawsuits if they believe that retaliation has occurred.