What should you know about being a whistleblower in Illinois? Or, on the other hand, what should you know about whistleblowers as an employer?
A whistleblower is an employee who essentially tattles on their employer. The violation(s) he reports may be personal (e.g. an employment discrimination claim) or more general (e.g. illegal practices at work, like not paying for overtime).
Many states, including Illinois, have protections for whistleblowers. Here's a general breakdown:
Who Qualifies Under the Act?
Citizens in Illinois are protected under The Illinois Whistleblower Act (Act). Under the Act, the statute states that an employer may not make, adopt, or enforce any rule, regulation, or policy preventing an employee from disclosing information to a government or law enforcement agency if the employee has reasonable cause to believe that the information discloses a violation of a state or federal law, rule, or regulation.
"Employer" is defined under the Act as any individual, sole proprietorship, partnership, firm, corporation, association, or any other entity that has at least one employee in the state of Illinois. An "employee" is defined as any individual who is employed, full time, part-time, or on a contract basis by an employer.
What Your Options Are
If you report a violation at work, and blow a whistle, figuratively speaking, both federal and state whistleblower protections are there for you with the following options:
- OSHA. You can file a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration if your employer retaliates against you because you reported a workplace health and safety violation, among many other issues.
- Rewards. Under the Illinois Whistleblower Reward and Protection Act, a whistleblower can be rewarded for doing so. In Illinois, a whistleblower can get up to 30% of the amount recovered upon completion of a successful whistleblower suit.
- Hire an attorney. An experienced employment lawyer in the area of whistleblowing can further advise you on this matter. Especially if you've been wrongfully terminated, an attorney can help you recover back pay, lost wages, and other forms of compensation that you deserve.
Even if you haven't been fired or retaliated against and just have questions, a local, experienced attorney can help spell out your options for you.