The Texas Whistleblower Act applies to government entities both on the state and local levels, including school districts. This act provides protection against actions related to employment that would negatively impact an employee.
When does it qualify as whistleblowing?
When reports are made by employees that a law has been violated, they must be done in “good faith.” This is a legal term indicating that the employee doing the reporting must believe that what they’re saying is true. Additionally, their claims must be deemed reasonable by a third party.
When your rights are infringed upon at work, it’s crucial that you know who an appropriate law enforcement authority is for your particular situation. This is who violations should be reported to for your whistleblower protections to apply.
Appropriate law enforcement authorities are government entities that have the authorization to apply the law and follow through with investigation and prosecution of the type of legal violation that was made.
This is important to know because you might not be going to the appropriate authority even if you go as high up as your supervisor. This includes violations that took place on the job or at the work site.
Supreme Court decision changes the game
Whistleblowers are guaranteed certain protections when they report potential breaches of the law. However, the Supreme Court decided in 2006 that not all reports of work grievances have protection under the First Amendment. This means you are not necessarily protected as you once were as an employee if your work-related objections don’t qualify as whistleblowing.
Whistleblowers also have protection against retaliation from their employers after they’ve blown the whistle. The individual has a 90-day period to start the local district’s procedure and file a grievance against their boss.
The process that your district uses for grievances and appeals because each one is different. Some districts may provide less than 90 days for you to start the procedure.
Whistleblowing rights are protected when the law is violated at a government entity and when your rights are infringed upon at a school district. While it is something you never want to have to use, whistleblower rights are something that employees are thankful to have when they need it.