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Protecting Whistleblowers: The Rights and Retaliation Claims in Texas

Whistleblower Rights and Retaliation Claims in TexasWhistleblowing is an act of reporting illegal or unethical activities that an employee or an organization is engaging in. Whistleblowers often put their careers and lives at risk when they make the decision to expose wrongdoing, but it is crucial for the safety of the public and the maintenance of a healthy and ethical society.

Texas recognizes the importance of whistleblowers and has put in place laws that protect and reward them. In this article, we will discuss the Common Law Protections, Specific Statutory Protections, and Retaliation Claims whistleblowers have in Texas.

Common Law Protections for Whistleblowers in Texas:

Texas is an employment-at-will state, and most employees may be terminated without any reason. However, Texas has a public policy exception that protects employees who report their employer’s illegal activity to authorities.

An employer cannot terminate an employee for reporting their illegal actions. An employee can report criminal actions or the violation of laws and regulations.

Texas law also protects whistleblowers from criminal penalties. Specific Statutory Protections for Whistleblowers in Texas:

Texas has protection for whistleblowers in various fields.

For example, in the field of child abuse, Texas allows whistleblowers to report child abuse or neglect without fear of being retaliated against. Texas also prohibits discrimination against whistleblowers who report violations of occupational health and safety, hazardous substances, and workers’ compensation laws.

Moreover, whistleblowers in the field of healthcare can report illegal activities in assisted living facilities, hospitals, intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities, Medicaid programs, and the general public evacuation without facing retaliation. Whistleblower Retaliation Claims in Texas:

Whistleblower retaliation occurs when an employer demotes, fires or takes any adverse action against an employee who reports the employer’s illegal actions.

Employees who face retaliation by their employers for whistleblowing can file charges with the Texas Workforce Commission. They may also file a lawsuit in court under the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act.

If the whistleblower is a healthcare worker who reported an illegal activity in a hospital or intermediate care facility for the mentally retarded, they may file a complaint with the respective state agency. Filing Complaints and Lawsuits for Retaliation Claims:

Whether you are filing a complaint with the Texas Workforce Commission or a lawsuit in court, it is crucial to know about the statute of limitations.

In Texas, the statute of limitations for filing a retaliation claim is 180 days from the date of termination or adverse employment action. It is also essential to keep detailed records of the whistleblowing activity, such as emails, memos, and documentation.

Conclusion:

Whistleblowers perform an essential public service by exposing illegal and unethical activities. Texas law recognizes this and provides protection and reward to whistleblowers.

Texas offers common law and statutory protections to whistleblowers. Specific statutory protections shield whistleblowers in various fields, including healthcare, child abuse, and occupational health and safety.

In Texas, if a whistleblower faces retaliation, they can file a complaint with the Texas Workforce Commission or file a lawsuit under the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act. It is crucial for whistleblowers to know about the strengths of these laws and the importance of keeping detailed records, should they face retaliation.

Whistleblower Hotlines in Texas

As a whistleblower, it is important to know where to report your complaint to the appropriate authorities. In Texas, you can report your complaint to the Texas Workforce Commission, which oversees and investigates whistleblower complaints.

The Texas Workforce Commission has a toll-free complaint hotline that whistleblowers can call to report their concerns. The complaint hotline is available for employees who believe that they have been retaliated against for whistleblowing.

Whistleblowers can contact the hotline to file their claim or get more information about the whistleblowing process. The complaint hotline is available to employees who work for private employers, state or local government employers, and those who work in the private sector.

When you call the complaint hotline, you will need to provide specific information about the violation, including the time and date of the offense and the names of any witnesses. A representative of the Texas Workforce Commission will then investigate the claim and take appropriate action to rectify any retaliatory action taken against you.

Whistleblower Retaliation and Violation Penalties in Texas

Employers who retaliate against whistleblowers for their whistleblowing activities can be held liable to pay damages to the whistleblower. The damages awarded to the whistleblower can include lost wages, compensation for emotional distress, and attorney’s fees.

The employer may also be ordered to reinstate the whistleblower to their former position with the same pay and benefits. The employer’s liability for retaliation can extend up to a statutory limit, which is determined by the number of employees in the company.

Employers who violate whistleblower protection laws are also subject to penalties imposed by the enforcement agency responsible for the particular statute violated. For example, in cases where the violation involves Medicaid, the Department of Health and Human Services in Texas may impose penalties against the employer.

Violations of Occupational Health and Safety laws may lead to penalties imposed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In addition, if the employer retaliates against a public employee, the employee may have additional protection under Texas law.

In conclusion, whistleblowers play a crucial role in uncovering violations and illegal activities in both private and public organizations. Texas has put in place several laws to protect whistleblowers from retaliation, discrimination, and other forms of adverse employment action by their employers.

Whistleblowers in Texas can file their complaint through the Texas Workforce Commission’s complaint hotline. Employers who retaliate against whistleblowers face severe penalties, including damages, reinstatement, attorney’s fees and a range of other statutory limits.

Thus whistleblowers play an important role in keeping Texas workplaces safe, ethical, and fair for everyone. Whistleblowers in Texas have both common law and statutory protections that allow them to report illegal or unethical activities in their workplace without fear of retaliation.

These protections extend to various fields, including healthcare, child abuse, and occupational health and safety. If a whistleblower faces retaliation, they can file a complaint with the Texas Workforce Commission or file a lawsuit under the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act.

Employers who violate whistleblower protection laws are subject to severe penalties imposed by the relevant enforcement agency. It is crucial for whistleblowers to know their rights and understand the importance of reporting illegal or unethical activities to maintain healthy and ethical workplaces in Texas.

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