A whistleblower is an employee who reports the illegal activity of an employer to a law enforcement or government agency. Unfortunately, a whistleblower may be fired from his job in retaliation for his actions. In some cases, the individual may have a wrongful termination case for violation of Texas whistleblower laws.
What Is the Texas Whistleblower Act?
The Texas Whistleblower Act is a state law that protects employees in local and state governments in Texas, but not those who work for private companies and individuals. It applies when these individuals report a violation of a federal or state law, ordinance, or rule to an appropriate law enforcement agency. Personnel policy and employee handbook violations are usually not considered “violations of law.” Reports up the chain of command internally within the employer are generally not considered reports to appropriate law enforcement authorities, unless the person receiving the report has the same power to investigate, prosecute or regulate a non-employee as he or she does an employee. If a person was fired due to his whistleblowing activities, he may have a wrongful termination claim.
Other Whistleblowing Laws in Texas
Unlike some other states, Texas does not have a broad whistleblower law that protects private employees who report crimes, fraud, waste or mismanagment, and are fired in retaliation. However, employees in specific, narrow areas may have some protections against wrongful termination. For example, it would be a violation of Texas law to fire a person for refusing to engage in illegal activities that could result in criminal penalties. Some other protected activities in specific professions include:
● Reporting possible child abuse
● Evacuating under an evacuation order
● Filing a complaint, testifying, or exercising other rights regarding hazardous substances
● Filing a discrimination complaint or testifying on behalf of a co-worker at his hearing
● Reporting Medicare fraud
● Reporting violations in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospitals, or other medical care facilities
● Reporting a violation of an occupational or safety law
In addition to protections under Texas laws, an employee may also have a whistleblower claim under federal laws.
It can be complicated to determine if you are protected under Texas or federal whistleblower laws and to understand the procedural requirements you must follow when pursuing your claim. Let attorney Walt Taylor identify your claims and fight for the compensation you deserve.
Please feel free to contact us online or call our office directly at 817.380.4888 to schedule your free, initial consultation to get your questions answers and learn about your legal rights.