You've always tried to be an excellent employee who complies not only with company policy, but also with state, local, and federal laws governing your industry.
Maybe there was a request from your manager or supervisor to perform a task that violated environmental law, or perhaps you realized that your company was not complying with disposal requirements for hazardous materials. When you did the right thing and advised management or your human resources team, you found yourself quickly reprimanded, demoted, or terminated from your position. What should you do?
The consequences of being a whistleblower
Too many companies turn a blind eye to illegal and environmentally disastrous practices while punishing those who would draw attention to those practices. If you've been fired for reporting illegal environmental practices, it can have a devastating impact on your career and financial stability. Without the advocacy of a skilled attorney, you may find it difficult (or impossible) to receive the unemployment and severance benefits to which you are entitled. Your former employer may also refuse to provide a reference, making it difficult or impossible to acquire another job in your industry.
Find an experienced attorney you trust
Louisiana and federal law makes it clear that an employer cannot legally terminate an employee for reporting a crime (also called whistleblower protection laws). Many companies, however, feel like they can violate the law, as it can be difficult for former employees to prove they were terminated for retaliation as a result of reporting environmental contamination.
Whether you reported the issue to an internal authority or made the issue public, you will need an experienced employment law attorney to advocate for you. After all, your former employer will definitely have an attorney representing their interests.
Make records of retaliation you experience
One of the best ways to prove to the courts in Louisiana that your firing (demotion or the refusal of a transfer or promotion) was retaliatory is to document interactions that lead you to that conclusion. Keeping physical notes (in a notebook you personally own, not on company property or on your company computer) can provide critical evidence for your case during court. Notes should include dates, times, the names and positions of the people involved, and as much detail as you are able to accurately recall. These notes can establish a pattern of retaliatory behavior after your reporting.
Don't forget: Whistleblowers are protected under law
It can be easy to give up, to move to another state to start over, or to simply accept your demotion or termination. However, as someone who attempted to inform your employer, the public, or enforcement agencies about the illegal environmental practices of your employer, you are protected from retaliation under law. You may be entitled to compensation for lost wages and any other financial hardships endured as a result of reporting. The best way to find out what your options are is to contact an experienced employment law attorney.