State And Federal Whistleblower Claims
There are various types of “whistleblower” claims under both Texas and federal law. Under Texas law, most whistleblower causes of action are for government – rather than private – employees. A word of caution: Government employees are obligated to follow their employer’s internal grievance before bringing a whistleblower claim. Those grievance processes frequently provide an extremely short timeline for filing a grievance – as little as 15 days from the date of the conduct.
There are other types of whistleblower claims available for specific types of employees – such as under the Texas Nursing Practice Act, Occ. Code Section 301.352 and Section 301.4025, and Health & Safety Code Section 257.003. Chapter 161 of the Texas Health and Safety Code makes it unlawful to retaliate (such as termination) against someone for reporting a violation of the law. It covers all employees of hospitals, mental health facilities and treatment facilities, not just nurses.
Whistleblower Protection Under The Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act
The Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act is a federal law that protects some whistleblowers from retaliation; those that are employees of a public company have experienced retaliation for reporting actions that violate federal laws that relate to fraud against shareholders. A publicly traded company is one that issues securities registered under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 Section 12 or is required to file reports under Section 15(d).
A person filing under SOX must prove that they engaged in a protected activity, their employer (decision-maker) knew about them engaging in the protected activity, they were subjected to an adverse employment action (such as termination) and the protected activity contributed to the adverse employment action.
Protected activity includes reporting or assisting with an investigation into securities fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud or bank fraud or provisions of federal law related to defrauding shareholders.
Any individual who believes that they were fired or subjected to an adverse action from their employer in violation of SOX can file a complaint with the U.S. Secretary of Labor. If the Secretary of Labor does not issue a final decision within 180 days of the date the complaint was filed, a lawsuit can be filed in district court.
You Must Act Quickly When Filing A Grievance
Doing the right thing can be confusing and emotionally exhausting. It takes courage to step out of the status quo and report your employer’s violations of the law. When you are experiencing your employer violating the law, follow their internal grievance and call Hutchison & Foreman, PLLC, at 817-900-9310 for a free consultation to discuss your legal options. Our experienced legal team will help you with bringing your whistleblower claim. You may also send an email to our firm through our secure website to initiate a consultation.