San Francisco Whistleblower Lawyer
For decades, workers in the tiny town of Libby, Mont., mined and processed asbestos-contaminated Zonolite for the W.R. Grace Corporation. They breathed in the dust daily and brought it home to their families on their clothing. Gayla Benefield was among the thousands of local residents who developed lung disease from the toxic dust, yet the W.R. Grace Corporation denied that Zonolite was the source of widespread respiratory illness. Benefield helped blow the whistle on the corporation for knowingly exposing Libby residents to the health risks of asbestos long after executives became aware of the problem.
What is a Whistleblower and How Do Employers Retaliate?
Greed or eluding prosecution are primary reasons corporations and public entities go to great lengths to cover up their wrongdoing. Whistleblowers are often employees who expose that wrongdoing in the effort to stop it.
Fraud against government agencies includes falsified Medicaid and Medicare claims as well as fraudulent payments to military contractors. Violations of environmental laws, tax fraud, and insider securities trades are also among the crimes exposed by whistleblowers.
Even though you may become a whistleblower because you want to help others or right a wrong, you may find yourself vilified by the people you have outed. As an employee, you could be fired. Other staff members may ostracize you. In some cases, you could be sued by the company that is in the wrong. If you are a whistleblower or are considering becoming one, you should know that powerful employers may retaliate against you. You need the help and support of a San Francisco whistleblower attorney.
Examples of Whistleblowers
Throughout history, whistleblowers like Benefield have stood up for their own rights and those of others. Some have fought against unfair labor practices, discrimination, hazards in the workplace, and unfair or outdated laws. Some further examples of whistleblowers and their causes include:
- W. Mark Felt, a.k.a. “Deep Throat,” who provided vital information to reporters about Watergate
- Edward Snowden, who leaked information showing the U.S. government was spying on private citizens
- Karen Silkwood, who exposed health risks to employees at the nuclear facility where she worked
- Cynthia Cooper, who helped bring WorldCom’s $3.8 billion accounting fraud to light
- Frank Serpico, who exposed widespread corruption in the New York Police Department
You need not be involved in such high-profile cases to benefit from the assistance of a whistleblower lawyer. If you are being harassed in the workplace or have lost your job because you have exposed wrongdoing on any scale, a whistleblower attorney can safeguard your legal rights.
Whistleblower Protection Under the Law
The first law protecting whistleblowers was established during the Lincoln presidency. Enacted in 1863, the False Claims Act was primarily a response to widespread fraud in the wake of the Civil War. FCA assigns liability to federal contractors defrauding the government and gives those related to the entity, such as employees, the power to file legal action against the perpetrators. In 2012 alone, 70 percent of such claims were filed by attorneys representing whistleblowers.
In 1989, federal lawmakers enacted the Whistleblower Protection Act, which protects government employees who report an agency’s violation of rules or statutes, financial mismanagement, abuse of authority or acts that threaten public safety. The Act prohibits agencies and their employees from threatening retaliatory action or taking such action against an employee who is a whistleblower.
At the state level, California has its own whistleblower protections designed to encourage people to come forward when they see employers breaking state or federal laws. It applies to both public and private companies, and in California, employers who retaliate against whistleblowers can be criminally charged. If you are a whistleblower in the San Francisco area, and you have been fired, harassed or otherwise mistreated because you told the truth, a whistleblower attorney can help you determine your legal options.
Do I Need to Hire a Whistleblower Lawyer?
Federal and state whistleblower statutes can be confusing if the law is not your area of expertise, and when your job is at stake, you should not try to go it alone. An attorney with experience in these types of cases can fight for your rights within the parameters of the law. Whether this means stepping in to mediate or trying your case in court, your whistleblower advocate will ensure that you receive the full protections you are entitled to.
You need not worry that your situation is not important enough to merit legal action. Contact Rizio Law Firm of San Francisco today at 888-292-8888 or fill out our contact form to schedule your free, initial consultation. We can help you sort things out so that you do not have to suffer due to your employer’s mistakes.
- This article should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute legal advice, and it does not create an attorney-client relationship with anyone. If you need legal advice, please consult an attorney in your community.
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