Our Award-Winning Employment Attorneys were recently asked to comment on a whistleblower case involving a former New York DISH Network employee. According to the lawsuit, the employee worked in DISH’s marketing department from March 2007 through November 2008. In the summer of 2008, the employee informed his superior about his concerns that a vendor was submitting fraudulent invoices in an attempt to bill DISH for work that wasn’t performed. The employee even testified at a deposition about the possible fraud. After leaving the company, the former employee learned that he had been “blacklisted” by DISH in retaliation for reporting the suspected financial fraud. For example, the former employee received a negative job reference. In addition, DISH refused to conduct business with the former employee’s subsequent employer. Third, the network refused to carry a satellite channel after learning that the former employee represented the channel.
If you are an employee considering reporting suspected fraudulent activity within your company, you need the guidance of an experienced Employment Attorney to advise you in such matters. As was the case with the former DISH employee, employers can take retaliatory action against you–even if you are no longer an employee for the company. Call our office today at (800) 893-9645 to schedule a confidential consultation with our Award-Winning Employment Attorneys. Our Lead Employment Attorney can be found by clicking here.
After suspected of being blacklisted by DISH as a result of reporting possible fraud, the former employee filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). After conducting an extensive investigation, OSHA determined that the former employee’s complaint had merit and ordered DISH to pay $157,024 in back wages and $100,000 in compensatory damages for violating anti-retaliatory provisions designed to protect whistleblowers under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. OSHA also ordered the company to expunge the employee’s file of any reference to the fraud case. The agency also ordered DISH not to retaliate against the employee and to post a notice in a visible place informing employees of whistleblower rights.
Commenting on the case, Robert Kulick, OSHA’s Regional Administrator in New York, stated, “A worker has a right to report wrongdoing to their employer without fear or retaliation during their employment and after. Blacklisting is a particularly insidious form of retaliation that can follow workers and even cost them new jobs. It is not only an unacceptable practice, it’s illegal.”
Our Award-Winning Whistleblower Attorneys pointed out that this case underscores a key and important fact: OSHA is responsible for enforcing the whistleblower provisions in 22 different laws, including the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Surface Transportation Assistance Act and the Affordable Health Care Act. Many people in the general public think that OSHA is simply tasked with enforcing workplace safety. However, this is not the case. OSHA has the power to investigate whistleblower complaints and even force companies to pay large fines for violating whistleblower provisions. Such whistleblower provisions can be found in laws pertaining to employees who report violations of laws governing airlines, commercial motor carriers, consumer products, the environment, financial reform, health care reform, food safety and worker safety. This is important information because workers are protected across a broad range of industries from retaliation when reporting suspected illegal activity within a company. For instance, an employee is protected by whistleblower provisions if he or she reports workplace safety violations. In addition, employees who report that truck drivers are being forced to drive longer than legally allowed are also covered by the whistleblower provisions enforced by OSHA.
Because the whistleblower provisions span across many laws, you need to consult with an experienced employment attorney before deciding to file a complaint or report against your company. Contact the law office of Villanueva & Sanchala at (800) 893-9645. Our attorneys will be able to assess your complaints and determine if you are protected under whistleblower provisions.
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