Florida whistleblower Act Law: Defenses, Damages, Elements & Protection

Florida whistleblower act

The Florida Whistleblower Act is a statute designed to protect whistleblowers and the act of whistleblowing. The rights and protections afforded by the Florida Whistleblower Act can be overwhelming to understand, which is why it is highly recommended to properly educate yourself on the topic and reach out to a Cueto Law attorney trained in this area of law should you find yourself questioning your rights or in need of legal advice.

What Is the Florida Whistleblower Act?

The Florida Whistleblowers Act is a statute designed to protect whistleblowers and the act of whistleblowing. Found under Chapter 112 of the Florida Statutes, the Florida Whistleblower Act is a statute designed to prevent agencies or independent contractors from retaliating against employees who report illegal activity.

This statute pertains to public officers, their employees, and private employers and employees. This legislation states that whistleblowers have the right to protection from retaliation when they report illegal activity under local law or gross mismanagement. The statute prohibits:

  • An agency or independent contractor from dismissing, disciplining, or taking other adverse personnel action against those disclosing information about violations of law or gross mismanagement.
  • Taking adverse action that could affect the rights/interests of a person in retaliation for that person’s disclosure of information.

What Is the Florida Private Whistleblower Act?

The Florida Whistleblower Act Private Employer Law is found under Chapter 448.102 under General Labor Regulations. This statute protects private-sector employees from retaliation when they report illegal activity or a violation of any policy or practice contrary to the law, including but not limited to gross neglect of duty and Medicaid fraud.

This act encourages employees to report illegal activities and gross mismanagement without fear of unjust retaliation. This information must be appropriately reported (in writing, under oath, or in a legal testimony) to the authorities, and it must be done in a timely manner. However, this act does not apply if the individual has not offered their employee a chance to first correct the problem by reporting it to them.

If they refuse to correct the problem, the individual may report the information to the proper authorities.

What Is the Florida Public Whistleblower Act?

Again, the Florida Public Whistleblower Act, found under Chapter 112 and Chapter 448.102 of the Florida Statutes, is designed to protect public and state employees who report illegal activity or gross mismanagement within a public agency. This act is intended to encourage employees to report illegal activities and to protect them from retaliation when they do so.

Florida Whistleblower Act Elements

The Florida Whistleblower Act is a statute designed to protect whistleblowers. If someone reports illegal or unethical activity, they are protected from retaliation. However, for the Florida Whistleblower Act to apply, several elements must be met. The elements required to prove a claim under the Florida Whistleblower Act include:

  • He or she did something that is allowed by law, such as reporting a violation of law after they brought it to the attention of their employer, and they refused to correct the problem.
  • He or she suffered an adverse employment action, such as losing their job or other respective benefits as retaliation (including types of cybercrime or cyberbullying) for speaking out.
  • The whistleblowing caused adverse employment action, such as loss of a job or other benefits.

Florida Whistleblower Act Damages

The Florida Whistleblower Act protects whistleblowers from being fired, demoted, or otherwise retaliated against for reporting illegal activity or a violation of any policy or practice that is contrary to law.

This statute also provides whistle-blowers with special damages, such as back pay, which may be awarded if their employer was found to have violated the statute. In some cases, whistle-blowers may also be awarded attorney’s fees and court costs if their employer was found to have violated the statute.

Having a lawyer familiar with the Florida Whistleblower Act can help a person prove their case and recover the maximum amount of damages possible.

Florida Whistleblower Protection

The Florida Whistleblower Act provides a wide range of protections for whistleblowers.

When accused of wrongdoing, common forms of whistleblower retaliation include:

  • Demotion
  • Pay decreases
  • Loss of certain benefits
  • Loss of their job

When an employee correctly reports the employer’s violation of law or policy and an employer hasn’t attempted to rectify the situation, the employer can face legal action.

Under this statute, employees can receive protection such as maintaining their job, wages, etc. However, if they have been the victim of whistleblower retaliation, they are eligible to recover any necessary damages.

Defenses to Florida Whistleblower Act

According to Florida Law, 112.3187 (10), the only defense to the Florida Whistleblower Act is an affirmative defense, meaning that the employer must show that the whistleblower was acting in bad faith. This defense is difficult to prove and is not available to an employer who retaliates against an employee for reporting fraud or other illegal activity.

Need Help With Florida Whistleblower Law?

Whether you are dealing with a business defamation case or simply want to better understand Florida Whistleblower laws, the team at Cueto Law Group can help.

Contact us today for your free consultation.

Our Final Thoughts on the Florida Whistleblower Protection Act

The Florida Whistleblower Protection Act is a helpful statute for those who feel as if they have been the victim of injustice at the hands of their employer. However, it shouldn’t be used as a means to avoid the consequences of your actions.

If you believe you have a case, it’s essential to reach out to Cueto Law Group and speak with one of our attorneys today. We can help you understand your rights and decide if you have a case.

FAQs

Where Can the Florida Whistleblower Act Statute of Limitations Be Found?

The Florida Whistleblower Act statute of limitation can be found under Chapter 488.100(8) and states that the statute of limitations begins on the date the alleged violation occurred. This means a claim must be filed within five years according to Florida State Law, Chapter 95.11(d).

Is Whistleblowing a Crime?

No, whistleblowing is typically not considered a crime. However, if a whistleblower in Florida is found to have exposed information that can potentially threaten national security, they can face legal repercussions, including but not limited to criminal charges, fines, and even incarceration, depending on the severity of the situation.

What Happens if a Whistleblower is Wrong?

In some situations, if a whistleblower is wrong, some employers may argue that the employee was not acting in good faith and could seek out a business defamation case. However, if the employee can meet the required elements for disclosure, then they are not likely to face any legal repercussions.