${site.data.firmName}${SEMFirmNameAlt}
Austin
512-279-6431
Harlingen
956-421-4904
San Antonio
210-227-3243

Federal and local governments usually encourage whistleblowers to come forward if they witness legal or ethical violations in their workplace. But what happens when employees blow the whistle on public entities?

A whistleblower report can be a challenge to deal with for any public entity. And in addition to dealing with the claims themselves, local entities must be wary of retaliation lawsuits as well. 

Here are some critical things to consider so that local governments can prevent accusations of retaliation:

1. What does the law consider to be retaliation?

Retaliation is any adverse action against someone after they engage in a protected activity, such as whistleblowing. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, whistleblower laws prevent employers from taking various actions, including:

  • Demoting or firing the whistleblowing employee
  • Disciplining the employee without reason
  • Harassing or threatening the employee
  • Reducing the employee's pay
  • Deliberately excluding the employee in work functions

The broad coverage that whistleblowers receive against retaliation can be intimidating for public employers. These protections force local entities to take great care when navigating a whistleblower claim.

2. Was the claim made in good faith?

It is crucial for public employers to take precautions to avoid retaliation. But they do have a right—and a responsibility—to investigate the whistleblower's claim.

A neutral third party will usually investigate the claims as well. However, if whistleblowers follow the proper reporting procedure, then they should report their concerns to their employers first. This gives employers the right to evaluate:

  • The validity of the claim
  • Whether the individual made their claim in good faith or not

Of course, if the whistleblower knowingly made false claims, then whistleblower laws do not protect them. Therefore, local governments can take legal action against them. 

3. What are the whistleblower's rights?

Understanding Texas' whistleblower laws is also essential. Reviewing these laws can help public officials:

  • Comprehend their own rights in these situations
  • Decide how to move forward with their investigations
  • Determine how to deal with the whistleblower
  • Avoid retaliation claims and further legal issues

It is more common for whistleblowers to come forward now more than ever. Therefore, it is more important for public employers to understand their options if they face this legal challenge.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
  • San Antonio Office map

    San Antonio Office
    2517 North Main Avenue
    San Antonio, TX 78212

    Phone: 210-227-3243
    Map & Directions

    Harlingen Office
    701 East Harrison
    Suite 100
    Harlingen, TX 78550

    Phone: 956-421-4904
    Harlingen Law Office Map

    Austin Office
    2500 W. William Cannon
    Suite 609
    Austin, TX 78745

    Phone: 512-279-6431
    Map & Directions

  • Austin Office map
  • Harlingen Office map