November 21, 2014 Articles

Independent Contractor Whistleblowers

Employers face a new area of potential liability with the increase in laws protecting against retaliation

by Boris Peyzner

Federal and state laws protecting whistleblowers—employees who are retaliated against because they report on or disclose their employer's misconduct—have become more prevalent. The reach of these laws, including the codification of common-law protections, has expanded correspondingly. As companies grow larger, the possibility of fraud, misconduct, and illegal or unethical practices within a company also has increased. Whistleblowing by employees therefore has been encouraged to ensure that employers do not engage in wrongdoing. In fact, whistleblowing has been recognized to be of such importance that, on July 30, 2013, the United States Senate passed Resolution 202 establishing July 30 as National Whistleblower Appreciation Day.

There are many federal and state laws that now protect employees who "blow the whistle" on their employers' misconduct. As recently as March 23, 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into federal law. Pub. L. No. 111-148, 124 Stat. 119 (2010). The ACA provides broad whistleblower protection to employees who are subjected to retaliation for reporting potential violation of consumer protection laws such as employer denial of insurance due to a preexisting condition or retaliation against employees who receive a tax credit or a subsidy. 29 U.S.C. § 218c. The ACA's whistleblower protection applies to virtually all public and private employees and any employer, and further supports the policy view that whistleblowers are of critical importance.

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