Whistleblower Protection For Employees

Whistleblower Protection For Employees: Under the newly enacted Illinois Whistleblower Act, employees are protected under three separate provisions plus a damages clause:

  • An employee may not be retaliated against for disclosing suspected violations of state or federal law to a government or law enforcement agency. It is very important that an employee disclose the violation to those agencies.  It is not enough to report the conduct to human resources.  The employee's suspicion does not need to actually be true, nor is the employee required to prove conclusively that the violation happened. The only requirement is the employee needs to have a reasonable cause to believe that a violation occurred. The law covering the Whistleblower can be found at 740 Ill. Comp. Stat. 174/15.
  • An employee may not be retaliated against for refusing to participate in an activity that violates state or federal law. 740 Ill. Comp. Stat. 174/20.  It is my experience that retaliation takes place far too often in workplaces and employees should take care to document any retaliation.
  • Lastly, employers are prohibited from adopting policies that prevent employees from disclosing suspected violations of state or federal law to a government or law enforcement agency. 740 Ill. Comp. Stat. 174/10.  This means the company cannot put anything in the employee handbook which would prohibit the employee from reporting such conduct.
  • If an employer violates any portion of the Whistleblower law, the employer, liability includes the following relief.  In the case where the employee no longer works for the employer, twice the amount owed in back pay, actual damages and special damages, which include mandatory attorney fees and costs.  Regrettably, punitive damages are not allowed under the law.