Whistleblower Protection Attorneys
Defending Employees' Rights throughout the U.S.
You know your boss is breaking the law. But what can you do about it?
Contact the employment law attorneys at Huizenga & Hergt, P.C., today for a case evaluation. We have successfully protected the rights of whistleblowers for decades. We'd be happy to discuss your concerns and outline your options.
Michigan's Whistleblower statute provides protection to employees who report or are about to report a suspected violation of the law, or who is requested to participate in an investigation or hearing of a public body. The employer can not punish an employee for engaging in this conduct. MCLA 15.361
It is very important to know that this statute has a very short statute of limitations, shorter than any other type of employment case. You must file a lawsuit within 90 days of the violation. The violation reported, or about to be reported must be of a statute, or regulation or rule enacted by the state of Michigan or its political subdivisions (cities, counties…) or the United States. The employee must report the violation it to a public organization or governmental agency, not a private organization. The employee must have a good faith belief that a violation has occurred. The employee must be able to show that the employer knew that he was the one who reported the violation and that the employer took action against him because the violation was reported, not for some other reason.
Other states besides Michigan also have similar statutes or court decisions which provide similar protection to employees. There are also federal statutes which may provide protection to whistleblowers, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, 18 USC 1514A(a).
TERMINATIONS THAT VIOLATE PUBLIC POLICY
In some states you may bring a case if your discharge violates public policy. This firm, back in 1982, was among the first to establish a public policy exception to the terminable at will rule. The scope of the public policy exception, where it exists, varies from state to state. Each situation requires a careful review of current state case law.
In the State of Michigan it is unlawful for an employer to terminate your employment because you refuse to do something which would violate the law. For example, let say that you work for a Tier I supplier to an auto company and a part your employer produced is defective and has been returned for a root cause analysis of the problem, if you are required to misrepresent or conceal the true reason of the defect from the customer this is fraud. It is unlawful for your employer to terminate your employment because you refuse to engage in fraudulent conduct. Many people are under the mistaken belief that if they simply report illegal conduct to a superior they are protected from retaliation. This is not true. In most cases the law will not protect you if you make an internal complaint unless you have complained about some form of illegal employment discrimination. If you are put in the position of having to chose between violating the law or keeping your job at the very least you should seek immediate legal guidance.
In general an exception to the terminable at will rule exists where there are explicit legislative statements prohibiting the discharge, discipline, or other adverse treatment of employees who act in accordance with a statutory right or duty. An example of this is where an employee is fired for filing a workers compensation claim. Second, a cause of action has also been found where the alleged reason for the discharge of the employee was his or her failure or refusal to violate a law in the course of employment. An example might be where an employee is required to dump hazardous waste on public land in violation of the law. Finally, a cause of action been found to be implied where the alleged reason for the discharge was the employee's exercise of a right conferred by a well-established legislative enactment. For example, if the employee is fired for serving on a jury.
The public policy exceptions need careful review. Some states do not count Federal Law as state public policy. Sometimes a specific statute with administrative rules and procedures applies, rather than the general public policy exception. If you have been terminated for any reason that appears to involve some illegal motivation you should seek immediate legal advice.
For high quality legal representation and responsive client service, contact the employment law attorneys at Huizenga & Hergt, P.C., today.
From our offices in the historic Penobscot Building in Detroit, Michigan, our firm has represented clients in the following states: Arizona, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.