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Establishing a Whistleblower Claim

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Bridgette Bott is claiming that her employer, Palm Beach Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, retaliated against her for testimony she gave in a DUI (driving under the influence) manslaughter case. She testified on behalf of the accused, John Goodman.

In 2012 Goodman was on house arrest and awaiting trial. He was accused of purposefully damaging his ankle monitoring device but Bott, who was on his private security detail, testified that the damage was an accident and that Goodman immediately told her what happened.

Bott also alleged that there was a conspiracy between Bradshaw and the Assistant State Attorney to revoke Goodman’s bond. She claims that prosecutors wouldn’t let her testify when they discovered what her testimony would be, but that she was later deposed by Goodman’s defense attorneys.

After testifying on Goodman’s behalf, Bott was removed from the security detail (where she was making $33 an hour) and given a 40-hour unpaid suspension. She is suing Bradshaw under the Florida Whistleblower Act, which makes it illegal for employers to retaliate against employees who report their employer’s illegal or dangerous activities.

The Florida Whistleblower Act

Whistleblowers play a critical role in society by ensuring accountability in both government and the private sector. That is why state law protects whistleblowers from being retaliated against for exposing fraud and corruption. Note that the law imposes different requirements for claims made by public and private employees.

A private employee must prove that he or she disclosed (or threatened to disclose) that the employer acted in violation of the law, the employer retaliated against him or her because of the disclosure (or threatened disclosure), and he or she gave the employer written notice of the illegal action and a reasonable opportunity to correct it.

One difference for a public employee is that he or she may report activity that is, in fact, legal, but that he or she suspects is illegal. A private employee must prove the conduct is illegal.

An experienced whistleblower attorney can explain the other distinctions between a public and private whistleblower claim.

Federal Whistleblower Laws

There are also federal whistleblower laws, like the False Claims Act. To establish a viable claim under the False Claims Act, the whistleblower must prove that:

  • He or she took some kind of action to report fraud on the government;
  • The employer knew about the whistleblower’s actions; and
  • The employer discriminated against the whistleblower because of the reporting action he or she took.

Types of Employer Retaliation

Your employer might retaliate against you in several different ways, including:

  • Firing you;
  • Demoting you;
  • Denying you a bonus that you deserved or earned;
  • Reducing your pay;
  • Suspending you; or
  • Reducing your job duties.

Contact Us Today

If you have been retaliated against for reporting the illegal or dangerous activity of your employer, contact one of our West Palm Beach whistleblower attorneys at The Pendas Law Firm today.

The Pendas Law Firm also represents clients in the Jacksonville, Fort Myers, Tampa, Miami, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Daytona and Bradenton areas.

Resources:

law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/31/3729

flarecord.com/stories/511046292-palm-beach-sheriff-s-deputy-gets-green-light-in-whistleblower-suit

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