Private Whistleblower

Labor & Employment Law

Private Whistleblowers in Florida

Sass Law Firm represents private sector employees subjected to retaliation because they reported their employer’s wrongdoing.

In Florida, what rights and protections do whistleblowers have in the workplace?

There are federal and state laws that protect employees who engage in protected activities to expose illegal practices of the employer and wrongdoing in the workplace.

Your whistleblower protections depend on whether you are a private sector employee—meaning you work for a private company—or whether you are a governmental employee.

The law that protects private workers is the Florida Private Whistleblower Act, Florida Statute Section 448.102.  The law that protects government employees in Florida is commonly referred to as the Public Whistleblower Act, Florida Statute Section 112.3187.  To learn more about the Florida Public Whistleblower Act protections, check out our Public Whistleblower page under Practice Areas.

Who is protected by the Florida private whistleblower law?

The Florida Private Whistleblower Act protects employees who work for a private employer that employs 10 or more employees, and the employee engages in the following protected activities:

  • Disclose or threaten to report conduct of their employer which is a violation or suspected violation of a law, rule, or regulation;
  • Provide information to a government agency conducting an investigation or inquiry into their employer; or
  • Object to or refuse to participate in their employer’s practice that violates a law, rule or regulation.

Can an employer retaliate against an employee who blows the whistle?

No.  It is unlawful for an employer to take adverse employment action against an employee who engages in whistleblowing activities.  Adverse employment actions include but are not limited to discipline, demotion, suspension or termination.

What damages can employees recover for violations of the whistleblower law?

If an employee successfully proves retaliation, the remedies available to a private whistleblower in Florida are:

  • Reinstatement to the same or an equivalent job position;
  • Compensation for back pay, front pay, lost bonuses and benefits;
  • Compensatory damages, which are typically known as emotional pain and suffering and reputational harm; and
  • Attorneys’ fees and costs.

Punitive damages are not recoverable under Florida’s private whistleblower law. One additional drawback to the Florida Private Whistleblower Act is that it has shifting attorneys’ fees.  This means that if an employee pursues a private whistleblower claim and does not prevail in court, the employee can be held liable for the employer’s attorneys’ fees and costs.

Is there a deadline to bring a Florida private sector whistleblower claim?

Yes, in Florida you must file your claim in court within two years after you discover the retaliatory employment action or four years after the retaliatory adverse action was taken, whichever is earlier.

Are there any other Florida state laws that protect those who blow the whistle?

Yes. There are other state law protections that prohibit retaliation against employees who blow the whistle.  For example, you may be protected if you:

  • Report discrimination or retaliation violations under federal or state law;
  • Report or complain about Florida minimum wage violations;
  • Blow the whistle on your employer for fraud and misrepresentation to the government in connection with collecting payments from the government; and
  • Report child abuse or elder abuse to the appropriate authorities.

Are there any federal laws that apply to private employer whistleblowers?

Yes, there are several federal laws that also protect whistleblowers and prohibit retaliation in the workplace.  You can learn more about the most common federal whistleblower statutes here.

Sass Law Firm zealously advocates for the rights of whistleblowers.  If you think you have a whistleblower claim against your employer, we urge you to seek legal advice from an attorney experienced in private employer whistleblower lawsDon’t delay as your claims are subject to strict time deadlines.

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