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The firing process and your legal protections as a whistleblower

If you notice health and safety violations at your place of employment, it could mean two things: that your rights to a safe workplace are being violated and that both state and federal laws are being broken. Knowing this, you may decide to become a whistleblower to let the government know what is going on. However, are you worried to raise the alarm because you think you'll be fired?

What you must know is that many laws are in place to protect you. You cannot be fired under federal law for being a whistleblower. Your employer may not terminate you simply for bringing attention to the violations.

Of course, this does become something of a gray area. What if your employer simply picks another reason to let you go? For example, what if you're five minutes late for work, which should simply cost you a bit in docked pay, but your employer then says that you're fired? Though the company won't say it's because you were a whistleblower, you may feel that this is exactly why it happened.

Situations like this are why it's important to document everything and to understand the termination process at your workplace. For instance, many companies in California have a policy that you can't be fired before committing a certain number of mistakes or being given a specific number of written or verbal warnings. If you're fired before those things are done, it could be a wrongful termination, and it could also show that the excuse the company used to fire you is just that -- an excuse.

You have legal protections as a whistleblower, and it's very critical that you know just what they are and what you can do.

Source: FindLaw, "What to Do If You've Been Fired for Whistleblowing," accessed April. 17, 2015

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