In Texas, there are protections in place for whistleblowers under both federal and state law. Whistleblowers are people who report co-workers for breaking laws or committing industry violations. Employers are forbidden from retaliating against employees who report colleagues, management or even executives for committing illegal acts.
A recent case in New York demonstrates the protections that whistleblowers enjoy. The plaintiff was an employee of an asbestos abatement company called Champagne Demolition LLC. The company, which was hired to remove asbestos from a school in New York, improperly disposed of the asbestos. The plaintiff entered the work area after regular hours and took photographs of the improperly removed asbestos. He then reported the company and was fired one day afterward.
A few weeks after the employee was fired, the company sued him for defamation. The defamation lawsuit was later dismissed by agreement of the parties. Following a trial on the plaintiff's retaliation claim, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the worker in the amount of about $174,000. Of that total, more than $100,000 was awarded for his back pay, $20,000 was awarded for his compensatory damages and $50,000 was awarded as punitive damages.
Employers are forbidden from retaliating against workers for engaging in protected activities, including acting as whistleblowers. Workers who have been unfairly terminated could respond by taking legal action. An attorney could help a worker build up a case and potentially file a lawsuit. A successful outcome could lead to the worker getting their job back as well as receiving punitive damages.