As discussed previously on this post, employers have an obligation to ensure state and federal laws are being enforced in their workplace. Minneapolis employees rely on this premise when they come to work every day-the fact that their employers are adhering to all the relevant laws and creating a safe and discrimination free work environment. When this does not happen, perhaps the only way the relevant authorities will become aware of the situation is if someone will draw attention to it. Employees who report violations of the law in their workplace are known as whistleblowers and laws are in place to ensure they are protected once they take these actions.
Violations can happen in a number of instances, such as prohibited action against an employee reporting sexual harassment or unlawful business practices such as polluting against environment law. This is why whistleblower protection can also be found in a number of different state and federal laws. In addition to this, there are also some common-law claims available to employees.
Federal acts such as Clean Air Act and Safe Drinking Water Act have protections for employees who have reported their concerns about safety or health hazards in the environment or in the workplace. However, to be given those protections, certain requirements must be met, such as the employee’s good faith belief that the employer was violating the law and the complaint must be to a federal agency or to the employer about the violation. Even if the employer is ultimately found to be complying with the law, the employee would remain protected. Similarly, state law also requires employees have a good faith belief that a law is being violated, but there are also other requirements that must be met.
It’s important to know what protections are available to one, as laws vary from state to state. One also needs to look at the provisions of their contract and understand the confidentiality clauses as well. Employees who want to highlight an injustice in their workplace may want to consider consulting an experienced attorney to understand the protections available to them.