Fighting For
Employee And Union Rights
Fighting For
Employee And Union Rights

Safeguarding the truth: Whistleblower protections in Michigan

On Behalf of | Feb 27, 2024 | Employment Law

Whistleblowers play a crucial role in maintaining integrity within organizations. They are the individuals who, often at great personal risk, expose misconduct that can otherwise be covered up or ignored.

Because this can be a stressful and intimidating experience, it is crucial to know that there are legal protections in place. They can make it easier for more people to come forward with confidence.

Legal safeguards for whistleblowers

Both state and federal laws and programs exist to shield individuals who report or are about to report violations of the law.

  • Michigan Whistleblowers’ Protection Act (WPA): This state law prohibits employers from discharging, threatening, or otherwise discriminating against employees for reporting a suspected violation of state, local or federal law.
  • The False Claims Act (FCA): Protects employees who pursue, investigate, or otherwise contribute to an action exposing fraud against the government.
  • Other Federal whistleblower protections: Various federal-level measures also provide protection. These include the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).

Collectively, these laws create a legal framework designed to encourage workers to report wrongdoing without fear of punishment.

A relevant case study

Recently, claims surfaced against the acting chief medical officer for U.S. Customs and Border Protection. He faces accusations of bypassing agency rules to obtain fentanyl lollipops, misusing government funds for personal travel and falsifying contracts to hire consultants.

Whistleblowers brought these serious accusations to light, demonstrating their crucial role in uncovering potential abuses of power.

For Michigan employees, this case highlights the importance of whistleblower protections. Without them, individuals might remain silent, allowing illegal or unethical practices to continue unchecked.

The value of vigilance

Blowing the whistle on illegal activities within an organization is no small feat.  Many of the laws that protect whistleblowers can be highly technical in nature, counter-intuitive, or require quick action. Some of these laws like the FCA not only shield whistleblowers from retaliation, but encourage reporting fraud against the government by allowing whistleblowers to share in any financial recovery that the government would otherwise be entitled to.  These laws can be quite complex in nature though. For others like the WPA or OSHA discrimination, employees only have a short window of time to file a claim—90 days to bring a lawsuit under the WPA and 30 days under OSHA. This is why it’s crucial for potential whistleblowers to seek legal guidance as soon as possible.

If you believe that you may be a whistleblower, it is important for you to contact a labor and employment lawyer as soon as possible. The attorneys of Miller Cohen PLC offer free telephone consultations (313-964-4454) and would be happy to help.