Identifying The Protections And Nuances To Your Employee Whistleblower Claim

Dec 17 2018

It is unfortunate, but true, that violations of the laws, regulations, and municipal ordinances occur in the workplace.  These violations could transpire in any number of ways: by a rogue employee, by an employer’s directive, by lack of oversight from management — the list goes on.  If you have observed any such violation, there are probably lots of thoughts swirling through your head.  One of them, to be sure, is whether you should expose your employer’s (or your coworker’s) unlawful conduct, and what will happen to your job if you do.

An employee who reports his or her employer’s unlawful conduct is known as a whistleblower.  Both federal and state laws prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who blow the proverbial whistle.  But the way in which a whistleblower must assert his or her rights can be complicated.  Here are some things to think about:

First, you may be protected under both federal and state law, depending on your employer’s industry and the nature of the violation. There are 22 federal statutes that protect whistleblowers from retaliation, and they are parsed out by the particular industry; the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) lists the statutes hereState protections function differently and are not generally industry-specific.  If the state protects whistleblowers, it typically does so through one or a few broad statutes that prohibit retaliation, as defined by that state, against an employee’s disclosure.  In 2010 the National Conference of State Legislatures created a chart of each state’s whistleblower statutes, and you can access the chart here.

Second, there are slight variations on the type of retaliation protected by federal and state statutes.  In general, retaliation can be firing or laying off; blacklisting; demoting; suspension; denying overtime or promotion; disciplining; denying benefits; failing to hire or rehire; intimidation or harassment; threats; reassignment to a less desirable position; applying or issuing a policy that confers an unfavorable personnel action when employees act as whistleblowers; or reducing wages or work hours.  Please keep in mind two concerns: (1) not all statutes prohibit every action in this list; and (2) if the employer’s action doesn’t fit neatly within one of these examples, you may nonetheless have a viable retaliation claim.  Consultation with an attorney is invaluable at this step.

Third, if you want to file a complaint with an agency or court, you must follow the procedure for the federal and/or state law that applies to you.  Most importantly, you must comply with the deadline to file your case.  In Connecticut, there are two whistleblower statutes: Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 31-51m and 4-61dd. Section 31-51m is the general whistleblower statute, and § 4-61dd applies only to an employee of the state, of a quasi-public agency, or of a large state contractor.  The two statutes have different regimes for properly filing in state court.  Section 31-51m is fairly straightforward — you must file in state court within 90 days of the later of administrative exhaustion or the violation;§ 4-61dd is more complex and dependent on the facts of your case.  To the extent you also have one or more federal claims, the applicable federal statutes’ varying filing deadlines will impact your procedural process.  It is therefore a good idea to consult an attorney as soon as possible if you believe your employer has retaliated against you for blowing the whistle, because delay may permanently foreclose your ability to recover.

CONTACT US

The seasoned employment lawyers at Garrison, Levin-Epstein, Fitzgerald & Pirrotti, P.C., have decades of experience fighting for the rights of Connecticut’s whistleblowers and other Connecticut employees who are subjected to illegal retaliation.

We are here to help. Contact us to learn how we can assist you.

Share this Post

whistleblower claim garrison levin-epstein

You deserve justice. We are here to fight for you.

Let Us Review Your Case

We will respond to your message promptly. Although we will keep your message strictly confidential, please note that contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship.

Client Experiences

During a very difficult employment situation, I was referred to Joe Garrison. Recognizing the volatile and time sensitive nature of my employment situation, Mr. Garrison met with me immediately (on the weekend no less). He listened to the details of my case, was able to think through possible creative solutions to offer the employer, and was responsive to my myriad of questions. He understood my concerns about litigation versus settlement, and he worked to find the best resolution possible. I am grateful to have had his support at a very difficult time. —J.C., New Haven, CT

Ethan Levin-Epstein represented me during a most painful and challenging crisis in my personal and professional life. Seeing me within 24 hours of being referred, his support and advocacy, wisdom and clarity not only resulted in a favorable negotiated outcome for me and for my family, but gave me peace of mind and the courage to recover. I am very grateful to have met Ethan and his team and would refer anyone in need to this haven. — C.L., Guilford, CT

You will never meet a more knowledgeable and compassionate professional than Steve Fitzgerald. My employment situation was very complex, and Attorney Fitzgerald kept me focused while remaining extremely adept and “thinking on his feet.” Should the need present itself again, I would never seek anyone else’s counsel regarding employment issues. I cannot recommend him highly enough. — J.R., New Haven, CT

Nina Pirrotti provided outstanding legal advice and was trustworthy, dependable, and responsive. From the start, I was confident that her knowledge and experience would obtain favorable results. On a more personal note, I enjoyed working with her and her staff and felt I was included in every part of the process. The dedication, concern, and interest in me as a client was greatly appreciated, and Nina has earned my highest recommendation. — J.H., Monroe, CT

I recently found myself in need of a lawyer in handling a dispute with my former employer. I was fortunate to retain Josh Goodbaum as my legal counsel. His legal skills knowledge and professionalism shone through in every step of the process resulting in a very positive result. I highly recommend Josh if you find yourself in need of legal counsel. — S.R., Guilford, CT

When I go to a lawyer for advice, I am usually anxious, particularly the first meeting. Amanda DeMatteis was clear in describing my options and immediately set me at ease. Realistic assessment is important, and Amanda was clear as to how to set up the case and the direction she felt we should go. I had total confidence in her abilities and knew I was being well represented against a large corporation. More importantly, we were successful! —N.M., Haddam, CT

Proven Results & Personalized Attention When You Need It Most

American Law Institute Super Lawyers American College of Trial Lawyers Best Lawyers The College of Labor and Employment Lawyers
Back to Top