• How are whistleblowers protected in Michigan?

A whistleblower is an employee who reports or brings the wrongdoing of their employer or another employee to the attention of the government or law enforcement. When the person contacts the authorities, they usually have specialized knowledge or verifying documentation to support their revealing information. Such information often threatens the finances, reputation, or freedom of the employer. By divulging their employer’s legal wrongdoings, an employee may risk their own reputation or safety. 

Whistleblowers are a vital part of ensuring employers comply with many laws that protect the public. State and federal legislatures have enacted legal protections for whistleblowers to help encourage workers to report wrongdoing and minimize their risk. The Michigan Whistleblowers’ Protection Act and the federal Whistleblower Protection Act specifically protect employees who lawfully disclose information regarding wrongdoing, report violations, or participate in court actions, hearings, legislative inquiries, or investigations regarding:

  • Violations of laws, rules, or regulations.
  • Gross waste of funds.
  • Severe danger to public health.
  • Abuse of authority or power.
  • Gross mismanagement.

The Michigan Whistleblowers’ Protection Act prohibits employers from retaliating against whistleblowing employees, provides penalties for employers that violate the Act, and gives whistleblowers legal remedies if they still suffer retaliatory treatment. Under state and federal law, employers cannot discharge, threaten, or discriminate against any employee who engages in protected whistleblowing behavior. 

Unfortunately, discrimination and retaliation do happen. Examples of this include negatively impacting or changing a whistleblowing employee’s

  • Wages or compensation.
  • Employment terms.
  • Workplace conditions.
  • Workplace location.
  • Benefits or privileges.

An employee who is the victim of retaliatory treatment by their employer may be entitled to several civil remedies. The whistleblower can file a lawsuit against the employer for injunctive relief, actual damages, or both. 

When a plaintiff asks for injunctive relief, they seek an order from the court to tell the defendant to do or stop doing something. In a retaliation lawsuit, the plaintiff often seeks a court ruling that orders the employer to halt vindictive behavior.

If the employee wins their case, the court may order one or more of these remedies:

  • Reinstatement of employment.
  • Back wages.
  • Reinstatement of full benefits.
  • Actual damages.
  • Court cost.
  • Attorney’s fees.

A whistleblower who has experienced retaliation must file a timely lawsuit for injunctive relief or monetary damages. The statute of limitations to file a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit is just 90 days from the date of the claimed violation. Claims that are not filed within 90 days will not be allowed, and you may lose your chance ever to seek justice or compensation. Do not wait—contact an experienced attorney today to learn more about Michigan whistleblower protections. 

Learn more at https://www.sommerspc.com/employment/whistle-blower/.

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