The Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) exists to protect employees that report or reveal wrongdoing or fraud. The WPA also prohibits a government agency from retaliating against a “covered” employee for whistleblowing. However, very few employees are completely sure of what, exactly, constitutes “whistleblowing.”
So what is “whistleblowing”? Whistleblowing involves the disclosure of information that an employee reasonably believes shows evidence of:
(1) a violation of law, rule, or regulation;
(2) gross mismanagement;
(3) gross waste of funds;
(4) an abuse of authority; or
(5) a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.
In addition, the whistleblower’s disclosure must be specific and detailed as to the facts. Vague or imprecise allegations of wrongdoing will not qualify for investigation or protection.
Most importantly, whistleblower protection to disclosures (“protected disclosure”) only applies if the:
(1) disclosures are made as part of an employee’s normal duties outside of normal channels; or,
(2) disclosures an employee made outside of his or her assigned duties were made to someone who was in a position to correct the alleged wrongdoing.
So, for example, speaking to a fellow employee about their wrongdoing or misconduct does not constitute whistleblowing, unless that person is in a position to take appropriate personnel action.
If the whistleblower believes he or she has suffered retaliatory action a result of a protected disclosure, they must prove that they made a protected disclosure and the disclosure was a contributing factor in the agency’s decision to take or fail to take a personnel action.
If you believe you have been experienced retaliation that may fall under the Whistleblower Protection Act, contact us immediately through our 24-7 Utah Whistleblower Hotline at (801) 323-5000 for a FREE evaluation of your potential case.