Whistleblower Attorney in kansas City

What is a Whistleblower?

Whistleblowers are employees who speak up when they see illegal corporate activities or wrongdoing. They are sort of like sports referees – they “blow the whistle” when they see businesses break the rules. Only corporate whistleblowing can be far more precarious than sports officiating. Whistleblowers often find themselves stuck between two difficult choices: report the wrongdoing and risk repercussions from their employer, or turn a blind eye and compromise their own integrity. The problem is, when good employees remain silent, they not only betray their own ethical values, they could also become complicit in the illegal activities and be held just as liable as their employers for criminal and civil penalties.

The law encourages people to speak up when they see unethical conduct taking place at work. There are many state and federal laws that protect whistleblowers from retaliation. The law provides these protections because people who are courageous enough to try to stop wrongdoing provide an important public service. Calling attention to unscrupulous business practices stops businesses from taking unfair advantage of public resources and vulnerable people. It also prevents fraud against the government and mismanagement of public resources. Those businesses that break the laws also hurt other businesses by gaining an unfair advantage in the marketplace, which impairs fair competition and free trade, two cornerstones of a productive global economy.

However, if you decide to report your employer for wrongdoing, it is important to understand whether the law gives you any protection. Whether you are protected can depend on factors such as the specific conduct that you report, who you report the wrongdoing to, how you make your report, the nature of your job position, and the nature of your employer’s business. Making the decision to report your employer is not something anyone takes lightly. If you are going to do it, you should find out if any legal protections apply and how to take advantage of those protections. Speaking with a Kansas City whistleblower lawyer can give you the peace of mind and confidence you need to do the right thing.

If your employer violates your rights by retaliating against you for making a protected report, you can hold your employer accountable. Your legal remedies can vary depending on the specific whistleblower protection law that applies to your case, but some common remedies available to whistleblowers include lost pay, emotional distress, medical bills (if you employer’s actions were severe enough to cause you to seek medical treatment, liquidated or punitive damages, attorneys’ fees, and, in cases of fraud against the government, a portion of the money you were able to save the government by reporting the fraud.

As you contemplate the difficult choice about whether to report your employer, below are some summaries of the laws that protect Missouri whistleblowers from retaliation. However, if you do not see a law that might fit your specific situation, don’t be discouraged. There are many other laws protecting employees in many other industries. You should consult a Kansas City whistleblower retaliation lawyer to see if any laws provide you with protection in your specific circumstances. We proudly represent whistleblowers, and we are happy to offer a free consultation to folks who are grappling with these difficult issues.

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Kansas City whistleblower retaliation lawyer
Missouri Whistleblower Attorney

The Missouri Whistleblower Protection Act

The Missouri Whistleblower Protection Act (“WPA”) was enacted in 2017 to codify protections given to whistleblowers under Missouri’s common law. To qualify for protection, you must first meet the statute’s definition of a “protected person.” There are three ways you can become a “protected person”:

  1. You report an illegal act by your employer to proper authorities;
  2. You report serious misconduct to proper authorities; or
  3. You refuse to follow an employer’s directive order that would require you to break the law.

“Serious misconduct” for purposes of meeting the second prong means behavior that is a violation of a clear mandate of a public policy enshrined by a constitutional provision, statute, or regulation. An example might be an engineer who reports that her employer has utilized non-licensed engineers to perform work that requires an engineering license. This would be a violation of Missouri’s licensing regulations, which exist to ensure buildings are structurally sound and safe. Another violation might be a health care worker who reports that medical care is being provided to patients by those who are not qualified to provide such medical care. This could be a violation of the Nursing Practices Act or other statutes that exist to protect patient health and safety.

Missouri whistleblowers must also ensure that their report is made to the “proper authorities.” This generally means that the whistleblower must report the misconduct to the police, a government authority, an officer of the company, the employee’s supervisor, or the employee’s human resources representative. Importantly, making the report to the same person who broke the law or attempting to break the law is insufficient. You must report to someone who has the power to stop the wrongdoing.

Now, even if you meet the definition of a “protected person” by reporting a violation of law or serious misconduct to proper authorities, there are certain exceptions under the WPA that may exempt you from protection. If you hold a supervisory or managerial position and your primary responsibility is to report the kind of misconduct you observed, then you are not protected by this law.

Additionally, the WPA does not apply to all employers. Specifically, state agencies, public colleges, and corporations owned or operated by religious or sectarian groups are excluded from the WPA.

And strangely enough, the WPA does not apply to the people who work for your employer – such as the manager or co-worker you reported for wrongful conduct. You have remedies against your employer, but not the people who work within your employer’s business who were responsible for the wrongdoing or retaliation. So, if you reported wrongdoing by your manager and your manager turned around and fired you in retaliation, the law only lets you bring claims against your employer, not the manager.

Assuming you qualify for protection under the WPA, and you experienced adverse action after whistleblowing, you must then prove that your report was a factor in the retaliatory action your employer took against you. This does not mean that you have to prove your report was the only reason for the retaliation. You can win a whistleblower case just by showing that your report played a role and had a determinative influence in the employer’s actions against you.

If you win your case and prove that your employer retaliated against you for reporting wrongdoing, you can receive money damages to compensate you for your harms and losses. The damages available under the WPA include back pay, reimbursement for medical bills, liquidated damages, and attorney fees.

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Additional Whistleblower Protections for Public Employees

While Missouri employees who work for public entities are not covered by the Missouri Whistleblower Protection Act, they have their own statutory protections that are arguably even broader than the WPA.

Section 105.055 of Missouri’s revised statutes prohibits public employers – such as state agencies, departments, legislative bodies, and schools – from punishing employees who report:

  1. A violation of any law, rule, or regulation;
  2. Mismanagement
  3. Gross waste of funds
  4. Abuse of authority
  5. Violation of policy
  6. Waste public resources
  7. Alteration of technical findings
  8. Communicating a scientific opinion
  9. Breach of professional ethical standards
  10. Activities that pose a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety

As you can see, the statute protecting public employee whistleblowers covers a far broader range of “misconduct” than the WPA. The statutory protection for public employees also prohibits their employers from ordering them to not talk to the media, law enforcement agencies, state auditors, legislative bodies, or the public about the employer’s operations or misconduct.

However, as with most laws, there are certain exceptions that apply. For example, if you make a false report of misconduct that you knew was false, you are not protected. Likewise, if the information you disclosed was confidential and not subject to the open meetings laws, your employer is not prohibited from punishing you for disclosing that confidential information. And, as you might expect, if you are the wrongdoer, you are not protected merely because you report your own wrongdoing.

If you experienced retaliation for reporting wrongdoing by the government, you can bring a civil lawsuit to recover compensation for the harm your employer caused. Your remedies include lost pay and other economic damages, compensatory damages for emotional distress, attorney fees, and other costs incurred in bringing your case.

A public employee has very limited time to bring a claim. Therefore, if you reported wrongdoing by your public employer and were punished for doing so, you should reach out to a Kansas City workplace retaliation lawyer who handles whistleblowing cases to protect your interests.

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Other Missouri Whistleblower Laws

Missouri has several other statutes that protect employees for reporting certain illegal activities. These protections extend to employees who report the following misconduct:

Discrimination (R.S.Mo. 213.070): Employees may not be punished or retaliated against “in any manner” for reporting discriminatory employment or business practices. So if you make a complaint of discrimination, or report discrimination against someone else, you are protected from retaliation. This protection also applies if you took some action to oppose discriminatory employment practices on your own, or if you assisted an employee who made a complaint of discrimination. See our page on Retaliation for more information.

Workers’ Compensation Retaliation (R.S.Mo. 287.780): This law protects employees who report work injuries or make worker’s compensation claims. For more information about your rights under this law,please visit our Worker’s Compensation Retaliation page. 

Healthcare Fraud (R.S.Mo. 191.908): This law protects employees who report fraudulent healthcare billing practices, such as Medicaid fraud, or assists in any related investigation. Employers may not “discharge, demote, suspend, threaten, harass, or otherwise discriminate against an employee” who has reported or assisted in the investigation of healthcare fraud. An employee who suffers retaliation under this law is entitled to reinstatement, double lost back pay, and interest on their lost back pay. 

Elder Abuse or Neglect (R.S.Mo. 198.070): Missouri law requires many healthcare professionals, caregivers, and law enforcement officers to report any suspected abuse or neglect of any person 60 years of age or older living in a residential care facility, assisted living facility, or skilled nursing facility. It is illegal to retaliate, harass, or terminate a “mandatory reporter” because he or she has reported possible abuse or neglect.

Nursing Home Abuse (R.S.Mo. 198.301): This law protects employees of nursing homes from retaliation and harassment because the employee reported any violation or suspected violation of any laws and licensing regulations governing nursing home facilities.

Teacher Sexual Misconduct (R.S.Mo. 162.068.6): Protects any school district employee who reports alleged student sexual abuse by a teacher or other school employee. 

Child Abuse (R.S.Mo. 210.115.3): People who work in certain professions are required to report suspected child abuse or neglect to the state. These “mandated reporters” include physicians, nurses, mental health professionals, health care providers, social workers, child-care workers, juvenile officers, teachers, law enforcement officers, and many more. This statute protects mandated reporters of child abuse from “any sanction, including adverse employment action, for making such report.”

Municipal Police Department Misconduct (R.S.Mo. 84.342.1): This law protects any employee of a municipal police department who reports potentially illegal conduct by another employee. 

Correctional Department Misconduct (R.S.Mo. 217.410): This protects corrections officers from retaliation for reporting any violation or suspected violation of the laws and regulations governing correctional facilities. For example, a corrections officer who reports prisoner abuse could be protected by this law.

Abortion Refusal Retaliation (R.S.Mo. 188.105): This statute prohibits employers from taking discriminatory or retaliatory actions against employees who refuse to participate in abortion. It also protects employees who report or oppose discriminatory employment practices against employees who refuse to participate in abortion.

Jury Service Retaliation (R.S.Mo. 490.464): This law prohibits employers from terminating, disciplining, threatening, or taking adverse action against employees who receive or respond to a jury summons. Employers also may not require the employee to use vacation, personal, or sick time to cover the employee’s absence during the time spent serving a juror or potential juror. If an employer discharges an employee on account of the employee’s jury service, the employee can file a lawsuit within 90 days of the termination and seek lost wages and other damages, including reasonable attorney’s fees. 

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Federal Whistleblowing Laws

The False Claims Act, also known as the Lincoln Law, is probably the most prominent federal law protecting employees who report businesses that willfully defraud the government. It is called the “Lincoln Law” because President Abraham Lincoln’s administration advanced protections to whistleblowers due to the significant amount of fraud taking place during the Civil War. Many government contractors were not delivering on the goods they promised to the troops.

To protect the troops and the government, President Lincoln enacted the whistleblower law to encourage and reward any citizen that reported fraudulent acts against the government. These laws not only rewarded the whistleblower, but it also gave them certain protections from retaliation. This law still stands today.

Part of the False Claims Act, known as Qui Tam, gives anyone who reports fraud against the government a reward for their actions and protections from retaliation by their employer. These laws have made it much easier to stop government waste and fraud.

In Qui Tam cases, whistleblowers see that fraud is being committed at their business, including government agencies, and report these actions, usually through an attorney. The False Claims Act gives these whistleblowers the right to sue these entities on behalf of the federal government for their wrongdoings.

As compensation for reporting the fraud and starting the lawsuit, the whistleblower is typically given compensation that is equal to 10-30 percent of the amount recovered on behalf of the government. The law allows whistleblowers to keep a significant percentage of the recovery to encourage whistleblowers to report fraud when they see it and protect our tax dollars.

Fraud can occur in many different ways. A company may double bill for services, charge for items that were never used, or services that were never provided. Businesses may make false reports to obtain payment, provide fraudulent information to obtain payment, or hide information to prevent penalties by the government.

Some of the common areas where fraud occurs include:

  • Medicare and Medicaid Billing Fraud
  • Pharmaceutical Fraud
  • Defense Contractor Fraud
  • Other Government Contractor Fraud
  • Construction Fraud
  • Environmental Fraud
  • Mortgage Insurance Fraud
  • Federal Crop Insurance Fraud
  • Federal Student Loan Fraud

Fraudulent acts can cost the taxpayer billions of dollars each year. This places an unnecessary burden on people who continue to pay taxes for services and goods that are not being rendered. Reporting this fraud is a great way to lessen the burden on everyone.

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Lawyer for workplace retaliation after whistleblowing

Whistleblower Protections for Federal Government Employees

Employees of a federal agency are also given the same protections as private industry businesses when it comes to government waste or fraud. If a government employee knows that unlawful acts are being committed, they can file the same type of whistleblower complaint with the government. Some of the common issues found include:

  • Misappropriation of funds
  • Mismanagement or waste of government funding
  • Violations of laws or federal regulations
  • Placing the public trust at risk
  • Placing the public health at risk
  • Placing the public safety at risk
  • Abuse of authority

Other acts of fraud or gross misconduct may fall into this category. If you believe that there is fraud occurring within your government office, contact a whistleblower attorney about your rights to file a claim.

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How Can a Whistleblower Protection Lawyer Help?

When you report illegal or wrongful conduct by your employer, state and federal whistleblower laws prevent employers from retaliating against the whistleblower. This includes protection from being fired, demoted, or otherwise punished for reporting misconduct.

If you experienced retaliation after blowing the whistle on your employer, your attorney can file a lawsuit against your employer for wrongful dismissal or discriminatory business practices. They can seek damages for lost wages and benefits and seek to have your position reinstated. They may even be able to seek future lost earnings if your position is no longer available.

In addition to giving you whistleblower protection from your employer, your attorney will provide you with the following services:

  • Review your case and all evidence. Examine evidence to ensure that there is enough to file a lawsuit.
  • Assist you with making a report that checks all the right boxes to make sure you are protected.
  • Notify the appropriate authorities about the misconduct and file any necessary documentation.
  • Manage all legal aspects of the case.
  • Fight for the highest amount of compensation for your efforts to stop corporate and government wrongdoing.
  • Give you the information and advice you need to make the best decisions for your life and career.

It takes a lot of courage to stand up and report the illegal acts of your employer. We understand that this can place a lot of pressure on you and your family. We will manage all the legal aspects for you so you can concentrate on everything else in your life.

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Lawyer for workplace retaliation after whistleblowing
Whistleblower attorney in Kansas City

Contact A Kansas City Whistleblower Attorney About Your Case

Employees who have knowledge of fraudulent practices in their company or government office are encouraged to be a whistleblower. The only way to get these fraudulent acts to end is to make it known that the fraud is occurring. It may be intimidating to report your company for these misdeeds, but it is the right thing to do.

Reporting corporate or government misconduct can be a little complicated. Depending on the type of fraud committed, certain authorities must be notified before a lawsuit can begin. Failure to notify these entities could result in your case being dismissed or receiving a much lower compensation package. When you work with a whistleblower attorney, you do not have to worry about all of these small details; your lawyer will manage these issues.

Stopping fraud should be a priority for everyone. When a business or government agency is committing fraud against the government, everyone pays the price. If you know that fraud is taking place, you don’t have to worry; the law is on your side. Speak with a Kansas City whistleblower retaliation attorney about your case today; contact us now for a free and confidential consultation.

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Practice Areas

Wrongful termination - Kevin A. Jones Employment Law

Wrongful Termination

An illegal termination can ruin your career and finances. Our Kansas City wrongful termination lawyer holds employers accountable for illegal firings.

Sexual Harassment - Kevin A. Jones Employment Law

Sexual Harassment

If you need a sexual harassment attorney in Kansas City, the Law Office of Kevin A. Jones will stand by your side and help you get the respect you deserve.

Gender discrimination - Kevin A. Jones Employment Law

Gender Discrimination

Men and women must be treated equally in the workplace. If you are being held to a different standard than the opposite sex, you should speak with a Kansas City gender discrimination attorney.

Racial discrimination - Kevin A. Jones Employment Law

Racial Discrimination

Race and skin color should be non-factors in any employment decisions. If your employer allows race discrimination in the workplace, a Kansas City discrimination lawyer can set things right.

Age Discrimination - Kevin A. Jones Employment Law

Age Discrimination

Age discrimination is against the law in Missouri. Don’t let false stereotypes and ageist beliefs cut your career short. Talk to a Kansas City employment discrimination lawyer.

Workplace retaliation - Kevin A. Jones Employment Law

Workplace Retaliation

Missouri employment laws prohibit retaliation for speaking up about discrimination and harassment. If you experienced this kind of behavior, speak to a Kansas City retaliation lawyer.

Whistleblower retaliation - Kevin A. Jones Employment Law

Whistleblower Retaliation

You should not be punished for reporting illegal behavior or activity. It is the right thing to do. If you were punished reporting wrongdoing, let a Kansas City whistleblower lawyer help.

Workers compensation retaliation - Kevin A. Jones Employment Law

Workers Compensation Retaliation

Injured workers shouldn’t lose their job becau