If you file a complaint against someone who is affiliated with your employer, you could be referred to as a whistleblower. Employers throughout the country are generally prohibited from retaliating against those who act in such a capacity.
State and federal law protect those who report violations
On the federal level, you may be protected by legislation such as the Clean Air Act, Toxic Substance Control Act and the Pollution Prevention Act. You may also be protected by OSHA rules that protect individuals who report a violation of safety or other workplace laws. State laws typically make it illegal to retaliate against someone who makes a sexual harassment claim or who reports a safety hazard on the job.
State laws may vary as to who is protected
It is important to note that state law doesn’t necessarily offer blanket protection to those who report a violation. In some cases, only government employees are covered by anti-retaliation rules or similar statutes. It is also important to point out that protection may be limited to certain parties that are directly related to the violation being reported.
There may be a statute of limitations
Many states have statutes of limitation regarding how long you have to make a claim before you’re no longer protected by their laws. In most cases, you’ll have no more than 120 days to report a safety violation or financial mismanagement within a firm. California law allows employees or other parties up to two years to make a complaint against a company.
If you believe that you have been retaliated against for taking a lawful action, an attorney may be able to help. An attorney may review a case to determine if you are protected by state or federal whistleblower laws. Legal counsel may also determine whether it may be best to settle a case as opposed to taking it to trial.