Do you think that you have a whistleblower’s claim? Did you know that in Texas only employees who work for a governmental entity have the right to assert a true whistleblower’s claim?
The statutes permitting an employee to assert a whistleblower’s claim are limited and filled with procedural nightmares. Gardner Employment Law knows how to avoid those procedural traps. We’re glad to assist.
Legal Aspects of a Whistleblower's Claim in Texas
The Texas Supreme Court ruled in Winters v. Houston Chronicle that an employee cannot bring a whistleblower’s claim against a private employer in Texas because no statute permits this type claim. The Supreme Court concluded that the law of employment at will controls. We explained that concept in Wrongful Termination of At-Will?
A state government employee has a different situation. Under Chapter 554 of the Texas Government Code, a public employee can assert a whistleblower’s claim but must cautiously follow specific steps set forth in the statute. Failing to dot one statutory “i” will defeat the employee’s claim.
Other Whistleblower's Statutes
Federal statutes exist which protect employees who report an employer’s illegal acts. Some of these even provide rewards for making such reports:
- The False Claims Act, which requires payment to whistleblowers of between 15 and 30 percent of the government’s monetary sanctions collected if they assist with prosecution of fraud in connection with government contracting and other government programs;
- The Dodd-Frank Act, which requires payment to whistleblowers of between 10 percent and 30 percent of monetary sanctions collected if they assist with prosecution of securities and commodities fraud; and
- The IRS whistleblower law, which requires payment to whistleblowers of 15 to 30 percent of monetary sanctions collected if they assist with prosecution of tax fraud.
Other federal statutes permit the employee to assert and litigate a whistleblower claim. One notable statute is the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. This statute came about because Sherron Watkins reported the internal wrongdoing of Enron executives, which brought down the entire corporation. In 2002, this Act was passed in order to add protections for corporate whistleblowers who are employees of publicly traded companies who have reported violations to the SEC.
A list of federal whistleblower statutes can be found on the website of The National Whistleblowers Center.
What to Do if You Know of Internal IIlegalities
Whistleblower laws are complex. If you have evidence that someone in management is engaging in illegal activities, call an expert whistleblower attorney.
Gardner Employment Law has litigated whistleblower claims, and we are here to help. Make the right call. Start with us.