Massachusetts Employment Law -The Whistleblower

What is a Whistleblower?

A Whistleblower is a person who brings violations of the law to the attention of the appropriate enforcement authorities. But that’s risky, isn’t it? If you report that your employer is not following safety, reporting or other standards, he can just fire you, can’t he?

As a society, we value whistleblowers. We need to have people willing to stand up and report these dangerous violations. That’s why, in 1989, Congress passed and President George H. W. Bush signed into law the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 (Pub. L. 101-12, as amended). Amendments in 2012 with the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (Pub. L. 112-199) added stronger protections.

What Protection Do I Have?

These two laws offer protection from any type of retaliatory action against the whistleblower. What does this mean in practical terms? Essentially, it means that, if you report any illegal activities of your employer or any other agency or organization, that employer, agency or organization cannot deny you services, promotions, raises, the opportunity to do business nor can it punish, or attempt to punish, you in any other way.

Massachusetts has its own protection for whistleblowers. The Massachusetts law (G.L. c. 149, Section 185) specifies that protected activities include those of an employee who “[d]iscloses, or threatens to disclose to a supervisor or to a public body an activity, policy or practice of the employer… that the employee reasonably believes poses a risk to public health, safety or the environment … .” Massachusetts law specifically describes that retaliatory action is “the discharge, suspension or demotion of an employee, or any other adverse employment action taken against an employee in the terms and conditions of employment.”

If you feel that your rights as a whistleblower are being violated, or you have any other employment matters needing attention, please contact us to speak with an experienced Massachusetts employment attorney.