The Florida private sector Whistleblower’s Act, F.S. §§448.101-448.105, prohibits employers from taking an adverse employment action against an employee because the employee objected to or refused to participate in any activity, policy, or practice of the employer, which is a violation of a law, rule, or regulation.
1. Covered Persons: An “employer” under the Florida Private Whistleblowers Act means any private individual, firm, partnership, institution, corporation, or association that employes 10 or more persons. An “employee” means any person who perform services for an employer for wages or other renumeration, but does not include an independent contractor.
2. Statute of Limitations: The statue limitations for filing a Florida Private Whistleblower case is two (2) years after discovering that the alleged retaliatory personnel action was taken, or within four (4) years after the personnel action was taken, which ever is earlier.
3. Administrative Exhaustion: There is no requirement that you exhaust your administrative remedies; an employee may file a complain in court. In other words, you do not need to file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC or the Florida Commission on Human Relations to bring a Florida Private Whistleblower’s Act case. Therefore, there is no need to wait at least 180 days before starting the litigation process, as opposed to a case brought under Title VII or the Florida Civil Rights Act.
4. Remedies: If you’re successful in your Florida Private Whistleblower’s Act case, the court may order: (1) an injunction restraining continued violation of the act, (2) reinstatement of the employee to the same position held before the retaliatory personal action, or to a quart equivalent position, (3) reinstatement a full fringe benefits and seniority rights, (4) compensation for lost wages benefits and other renumeration, or (5) any other compensation damage is allowable by law.
5. Attorneys Fees: A court may award reasonable attorneys fees, court cost, and expenses to the prevailing party of a Florida Private Whistleblower’s Act case, which means the employee could have to pay the employers attorneys fees, if he or does not prevail.
6. Written Notice: In order to be protected under the Whistleblowers’ Act for complaining to an outside agency, an employee must first disclose, in writing, the unlawful act to the employer.
7. Testify As a Witness: An employee is protected under the Whistleblower’s Act for providing testimony or acting as a witness under subpoena related to an alleged illegal act of the employer.