In our previous post, we began discussing how those state employees who are reluctant to blow the whistle on fraudulent, abusive and/or potentially harmful practices don't have to be unnecessarily fearful, as the Whistleblower's Act protects them from retaliatory measures on the part of state agencies and independent contractors.
We'll continue this discussion in today's post, exploring what actually happens after a state employee contacts the Office of the Chief Inspector General and their options if indeed they are retaliated against by their employer.
If a person wants to report unlawful conduct creating a "clear and present danger" to the health, safety and welfare of the public, or other malfeasance (gross mismanagement, gross waste of funds, gross neglect of duty, etc.), they will need to call the toll-free whistleblower's hotline set up by the Chief Inspector General.
During the call, an official will take down the necessary information and make the necessary inquiries. Once this is completed, a decision will be made as to whether the Chief Inspector General's office will proceed with an investigation.
If it does, the whistleblower -- whose identity will remain confidential unless disclosure is necessary or would otherwise protect the public health, safety and welfare -- will not only be notified, but also given the chance to attach comments to the final investigative report. This investigative report, in turn, is then forwarded to the Comptroller, Joint Legislative Auditing Committee, the agency named in the report and the Governor.
If the state employee who blows the whistle on misconduct is retaliated against, they have two options:
- Submit a written complaint to the Florida Commission on Human Relations within 60 days of the otherwise prohibited retaliatory measure
- Pursue a civil lawsuit within 180 days of the otherwise prohibited retaliatory measure once all contractual and/or administrative remedies have been exhausted
If you believe that you were wrongfully terminated or victimized by any other type of retaliatory conduct for blowing the whistle on illegal conduct in the private or public sector, please consider speaking with an experienced legal professional to learn more about your options.