Many Laws Protect True Whistle-Blowers

Examples of some activities covered by whistle-blower protections are:

  • Investigating, initiating, testifying, or assisting in a Tennessee False Claims Act matter. 
  • Reporting suspected illegal, improper, wasteful or fraudulent activity of any state governing board, council, commission or equivalent body.
  • Reporting violations of state or federal law or regulations, fraud in the operation of government programs, misappropriation of governmental resources, endangering the health or safety of employees or citizens, mismanagement of programs or funds, or abuse of authority.
  • Reporting abuse, dereliction or deficiency in the operation of a licensed service or facility for persons with mental illness, serious emotional disturbance, developmental disability, or who is at risk for those conditions.
  • Reporting harm to a child if you are a health care provider.
  • Reporting illegal, improper, wasteful or fraudulent activity in higher education.
  • Reporting falsification of data, waste or mismanagement in Local Education Agencies.
  • Refusing to remain silent about illegality or refusing to participate in an illegality (or what is believed, in good faith, to be an illegality)
  • Refusing to remain silent about illegality or refusing to participate in an illegality (or what is believed, in good faith, to be an illegality) if you are a public school teacher. 
  • Reporting a violation of the employer’s requirement to verify the legal eligibility of employees to work in the United States.
  • Filing a complaint, assisting an inspector, instituting a proceeding, testifying or exercising a right under the Tennessee Hazardous Chemical Right to Know Law.
  • Reporting Medicaid false claims. 
  • Reporting the abuse of an adult.

In addition, there are many statutes under federal law to protect publicly-traded company employees, energy workers, railroad employees, and Department of Energy contractors.  There are also whistle-blower statutes designed to protect those who report water pollution, actions that jeopardize consumer safety, actions that cheat consumers, or actions that contaminate food.  Individuals who make reports of container problems, transit dangers, health care fraud or abuse, pipeline safety issues, drinking water safety dangers, improper solid waste disposal, improper handling of toxic substances, and aviation safety concerns, are also protected.  These are just some of the many laws that protect us by protecting those who will stand up and report wrong-doing that affects the public.  

Qui Tam Lawsuits

Governmental fraud cases are often referred to as “qui tam” (“key” “tam,” rhymes with “bee” and “ham”) cases.  If you work in the health-care industry and are aware of TennCare, Medicare or Medicaid fraud, you may be able to collect a portion of the funds that are recovered for the state or federal government as a result of reporting such fraud.  The first person to report such fraud usually is the only person with an opportunity to collect a portion of the recovered funds.  Subsequent reporters of the same fraud are not entitled to part of the reward.  This is a very good reason to keep your information confidential and contact a lawyer immediately if you think you may have information about fraud against the government.  Such reports can save your fellow taxpayers millions of dollars and provide a significant reward to you, too.  

Examples of Past Cases
Southmayd v. Apria (2007)
Plaintiff was a Branch Manager for Defendant. He was terminated shortly after refusing to participate in an illegality. Plaintiff was discriminated against on the basis of his age in both his employment and in his termination.  Plaintiff won at trial and a federal jury awarded him $368,000. The parties reached a settlement prior to the Court awarding Plaintiff his attorneys' fees and costs in addition to the $368,000 verdict.  

Emerson v. Oak Ridge Research Inc. et al. (2005)
Plaintiff's causes of action at trial were retaliatory discharge and assault and battery. Plaintiff prevailed after a jury trial. The jury returned a verdict for $18,000 on the assault and battery; $157,800 for various damages, and $500,000 in punitive damages. The Trial Judge reduced the punitive damages from $500,000.00 to $150,000.00, and awarded plaintiff attorney’s fees in the amount of $282,964.50, as well as discretionary costs. On appeal, the case was affirmed in part, vacated in part and remanded in part. Plaintiff received the damages awarded, the attorneys' fees awarded and the remitted punitive damages amount. 

Michael v. Windsor Gardens et al. (2005)
A federal jury found that the Defendants were responsible for violation of the Tennessee Human Rights Act, the Tennessee common law in regard to whistleblowing and for retaliatory discharge. The jury awarded plaintiff $30,000 for back pay, plus $170,000 for emotional suffering. The jury elected to further award $50,000 in punitive's against Windsor Gardens. Attorneys' fees in the amount of $333,000 were also awarded. The parties later reached a confidential settlement of the matter.

Take Action

Whether you are being retaliated against, need whistle-blower protection, or know of fraud that qualifies for a qui tam case, take action today.   

Call our office today at (865) 474-1284 to discuss your East Tennessee employment situation. 


(865) 474-1284  Young Law Office, P.C. in Knoxville

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You may be protected by state or federal law if you are being retaliated against by an employer for certain actions or activities.  Race, age, sex, national origin, disability, or religious discrimination complaints may result in retaliation toward the complaining employee.  Some employers compound their problems and legal liability by not only failing to act upon a complaint of discrimination but by also retaliating against the employee who brought the discrimination to light. You may have rights under the Tennessee Human Rights Act or various federal laws for exercising your rights to make a complaint about such discrimination.

You also have protection against retaliation for exercising your right to be a member of a jury, serve in the armed forces, report an injury under workers’ compensation or to receive the minimum wage or overtime pay. You also have the right to discuss the conditions of your employment and organize with other employees, in person or via social media, without retaliation.  You should contact an attorney any time that you believe that your employer is retaliating against you by demotion, transfer, pay cut, significant job duty changes, or termination. 

Retaliate: To do something bad to someone who has hurt you or treated you badly; to get revenge against someone.

Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary.