Termination After Reporting Fraudulent Activity: Know Your Rights
Texas is one of many “at-will” employment states. At-will employers and employees have the right to terminate employment at any time, without advance notice or reason. However, the exception is that an employee cannot be fired for reasons that are illegal, or those that violate their employment rights.
When someone is terminated after reporting fraudulent activity, it is likely to be in violation of whistleblower protection laws and/or retaliation laws. Wrongful termination lawyer Dan A. Atkerson helps individuals in Allen, TX, Plano, TX, Frisco, TX, and surrounding areas consider their legal options after being terminated following whistleblowing.
What Is Whistleblowing?
Whistleblowing is a term used to describe an employee’s reporting of illegal conduct or fraudulent activity at work. Whistleblowing specifically refers to fraudulent acts that are not related to workplace rights. For example, if an employee reports an employer for sexual harassment or workplace discrimination, that is not generally classified as whistleblowing. However, if an employee reports that their employer has engaged in shareholder fraud, that would fall under the definition of whistleblowing.
Am I Protected from Termination after Whistleblowing?
Federal employment laws make it illegal to fire an employee for reporting certain illegal activities. Many states have their own laws that provide further protections against termination (or other retaliatory actions) for whistleblowing. Texas employees who may be protected from termination after whistleblowing include those who have:
- Reported fraudulent activity at a nursing home, mental health facility, hospital, or rehabilitation center
- Reported the illegal activity of a government employer
- Reported violations under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (this act protects employees who report shareholder fraud, financial irregularities, or other actions pertaining to accounting and securities)
Whistleblowing protection laws are complex, and workers may be unsure if their situation protects them from being fired or facing other forms of retaliation. To further complicate matters, employers are highly unlikely to admit that a termination is related to the reporting of fraudulent activity. The best way for a worker to determine if they have grounds to file a wrongful termination lawsuit is to meet with a knowledgeable employment law attorney.
Damages in a Wrongful Termination Lawsuit
As with any other type of civil lawsuit, the amount and type of damages that may be awarded in a wrongful termination case depends on the strength of the claim and the degree of losses suffered by the plaintiff. In many wrongful termination cases, a former employee can be compensated for:
- Back pay (wages and benefits lost as a result of the termination)
- Front pay (wages that will be lost moving forward until a new job can be found)
- Out-of-pocket expenses related to the search for a new job
- Attorney fees and court costs
- Pain and suffering for emotional and/or physical harm caused by the termination
Contact the Law Offices of Dan A. Atkerson
If you believe that you have been wrongfully terminated as a result of reporting an employer’s fraudulent activity, attorney Dan A. Atkerson would like to help you explore your potential right to financial compensation. To discuss the details of your case, contact our law firm online, or call (214) 383-3606 and schedule a personal consultation.