Employment Lawyer Handling Whistleblower Claims
Also Serving the Columbia, Frederick, Howard and Anne Arundel Counties, Silver Spring and Glen Burnie Areas
There are several laws that provide protections for employees who report their employers’ illegal activity. Joyce E. Smithey is an experienced Maryland employment law attorney who represents employees and employers in whistleblower claims and litigation statewide.
In the context of employment, the term “whistleblower” refers to an employee who reports an employer’s suspected illegal activity to the government. In order to encourage reporting of violations and to prevent employers from silencing their employees, several laws, including the federal False Claims Act, prevent employers from retaliating against employees who file whistleblower claims.
With well over a decade of experience representing employers and employees throughout Maryland, attorney Joyce E. Smithey brings a wealth of knowledge to pursuing whistleblower claims on behalf of employees and representing both employees and employers in disputes arising out of allegations of unlawful retaliation. Ms. Smithey takes a straightforward and open approach to representing her clients, seeking out efficient solutions that are custom-tailored to her clients’ unique individual circumstances.
Laws with Whistleblower Protections for Employees
While the False Claims Act is perhaps the most well-known statute that protects whistleblowers who file “qui tam” lawsuits against their employers, there are numerous other state and federal laws that provide whistleblower protections for employees. Some of these laws include:
- Affordable Care Act (ACA or “Obama Care”) – The ACA provides whistleblower protections for employees who report violations such as discrimination based upon employees’ receipt of health insurance subsidies and denials of coverage based on preexisting conditions.
- Clean Air Act – Under the Clean Air Act, employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who report emissions violations.
- Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) – ERISA protects employees who report their employers’ violations with regard to plan participation restrictions and other forms of discrimination.
- Federal Water Pollution Control Act (the “Clean Water Act”) – Similar to the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act protects employees who report their employers’ alleged violations with regard to polluting the water.
- Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) – Under the FSMA, food manufacturers, distributors, packers, and transporters may not retaliate against employees who report violations of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA), or who refuse to participate in violations of the FDCA.
- Occupational Safety & Health Act (OSHA) – The OSHA imposes various workplace safety requirements for private employers in different industries. It also protects employees who report safety and health violations, and who participate in OSHA investigations.
- Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) – The whistleblower protections under SOX include protections for employees who report alleged bank or securities fraud, violations of SEC rules and regulations, and other forms of shareholder fraud.
- Maryland Whistleblower Law – The Maryland Whistleblower Law protects certain state employees who report abuses of authority, gross mismanagement or waste of funds, substantial health and safety risks, and violations of the law.
This list is by no means exhaustive; and, as an employee, if you believe that you have experienced retaliation after reporting your employer to the government, it is important that you speak with an attorney about your rights. For information on additional federal statutes containing whistleblower protections, you can visit Whistleblower.gov.
Common Examples of Whistleblower Claims
The fact that there are so many laws protecting whistleblowers means that there is a virtually endless list of violations that can lead to whistleblower claims. However, some types of violations are certainly more common than others. Some of the most common examples of whistleblower claims include those alleging:
- Discrimination and other ERISA violations
- Government contract fraud
- Healthcare billing fraud (including submitting false claims to Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare)
- Securities law violations and shareholder fraud
- Violations of industry-specific laws and regulations
Experienced Legal Representation for Whistleblower Claims
For employees and employers alike, whistleblower claims are extremely sensitive matters. While the legal protections for whistleblowers are broad, they are not absolute, and employees who fail to take the necessary measures to protect themselves can often face unexpected challenges when seeking to defend their rights. Conversely, for employers defending against allegations of improper retaliation against whistleblowers (including termination, demotion, and passing over for advancement), presenting a successful defense is fraught with issues that require careful planning and a strategic approach to litigation.
Contact Maryland Employment Law and Whistleblower Attorney Joyce E. Smithey
If you need legal representation for an employment-related whistleblower dispute in Maryland, contact attorney Joyce E. Smithey to arrange a confidential initial consultation. With offices in Annapolis, Ms. Smithey represents employers and employees statewide. To request an appointment, call (410) 269-5066 or submit a confidential consultation request online today.