How to Protect Yourself as a Whistleblower?
How to Protect Yourself As A Whistleblower In Ohio
For anyone seeking to report violations of law, regulations, or ethical obligations in the workplace, a very important question is how to protect yourself as a whistleblower.
Ohio law protects whistleblowers from potential retaliation that may result from “blowing the whistle” about certain things. There are federal whistleblower protections as well. Each type of claim is very fact specific so it is important you know that this is general information and not legal advice. You should always consult with an attorney before reporting something, if possible, to fully understand what needs to be done in order to be protected from retaliation.
Below, we take a closer look at what kind of protection you might be eligible for and how you can protect yourself as a whistleblower.
Does Ohio Have a Whistleblower Law?
Yes. Ohio has a specific law that addresses whistleblowing on a state level. Known as the Ohio Whistleblower Protection Act, this law makes it illegal for employers in both the public and private sectors to punish, harass, or retaliate against any workers who report their employer for illegal activity or wrongdoing.
The Whistleblower Protection Act is codified in Section 4113.52 of the Ohio Revised Code. Importantly, the statute prohibits retaliation when an employee reports what they believe is “ a criminal offense that is likely to cause an imminent risk of physical harm to persons or a hazard to public health or safety, a felony, or an improper solicitation for a contribution.”
For a worker to invoke the protections under the Ohio Whistleblower Protection Act, the worker must::
- notice a regulatory, ethical, or legal violation by a coworker, manager, executive, or supervisor;
- honestly and reasonably believe that the violation is a crime or possible crime, or a danger to health; and
- report the violation in writing to an appropriate person in their organization, a regulatory agency, or law enforcement.
These steps must be followed almost exactly in order to be protected.
What Protection Does a Whistleblower Have?
The Ohio Whistleblower Protection Act protects worked from retaliation because of their report.
There is also protection available under the Whistleblower Protection Act, a federal-level law that prohibits retaliation against workers who report violations. The Whistleblower Protection Act covers “the whistleblower provisions of more than 20 whistleblower statutes” that protect workers.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which oversees the Whistleblower Protection Act, acts of prohibited retaliation include:
- Firing or laying off
- Denial of benefits
- Failure to hire or rehire a worker
- Making threats
- Intimidating or harassing a worker
- Denying overtime or promotion
Depending on the industry you work in, there may also be industry-specific whistleblower protections available.
Consider reaching out to one of our Columbus whistleblower protection lawyers for help in determining if there are additional protections available to you.
How do I Protect Myself as a Whistleblower in Ohio?
Now that you have an idea of the legal protections available to you, there are a few steps you can take to help further protect yourself.
Note: The following is not legal advice. It is general information to educate. Please consult with a lawyer before making any kind of report.
- Retain a lawyer as soon as possible. Initial consultation and review of your case can help you to determine if your suspicions of a violation of the law are justified.
- Follow the reporting procedure as laid out by the Department of Health, OSHA, or any other agency where you file your report. This helps to ensure that your report is filed properly and meets any necessary requirements such as time limits in which to file a complaint.
- Document any relevant evidence such as communications and take notes on important details related to the violation. Consult with a lawyer about how to document evidence in a legal manner.
Connect with an Ohio Whistleblower Protection Lawyer
If you are considering reporting unlawful activity in the workplace, consider reaching out to the whistleblower protection lawyers here at The Friedmann Firm. The whistleblowing process can be complex and stressful, and we can help you report your concerns to the appropriate parties in a timely manner.
We are also here to assist you if you face any retaliation following your report.
You can schedule a free and fully confidential consultation with one of our team members today over the phone at 614-610-9755 or by scheduling an appointment online.
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