Whistleblower Protections

Florida Whistleblower’s Act

Private Sector

Florida’s private sector whistleblower act (FWA) prohibits “employers” from taking “any retaliatory personnel action” against an “employee” based on the employee engaging in certain protected activity.

The FWA protects three distinct types of conduct:

  • Disclosing or threatening to disclose information pertaining to the violation of a law, rule or regulation
  • Providing information pertaining to the violation of a law, rule or regulation to a state agency, body or agent during an investigation, hearing or inquiry.
  • refusing to participate in the violation of a law, rule or regulation.

The FWA prohibits “retaliatory personnel actions,” which are defined as “the discharge, suspension, or demotion by an employer of an employee or any other adverse employment action taken by an employer against an employee in the terms and conditions of employment.” FLA. STAT. § 448.101(6).

Public Sector

Florida’s Public Sector Whistleblower’s Act (referred to in these materials as the “Public Sector Act”) prohibits “agencies” and “independent contractors” from retaliating against “employees” or “persons” who make certain protected disclosures.

The Public Sector Act does not protect:

  • A person who committed or intentionally participated in committing the violation or suspected violation. FLA. STAT. § 112.3187(6);
  • A person under the care, custody or control of the state correctional system, or after release from same, with respect to circumstances that occurred during any period of incarceration. FLA. STAT. § 112.3187(6); or
  • An employee or person who discloses information he or she knows to be false. FLA. STAT. § 112.3187(4)(c).

Federal False Claims Act

The retaliatory relief provision of the federal False Claims Act (31 USCA § 3730(h)) protects “whistleblowers” from retaliation by their employers, making it illegal for an employer to discharge, demote, suspend, threaten, harass, or in any other manner discriminate against an employee in the terms and conditions of employment because of lawful acts done by the employee in furtherance of an action under the Act, including investigation for, initiation of, testimony for, or assistance in an action filed or to be filed under the Act.

Florida False Claims Act

The Florida False Claims Act provides anti-retaliation relief for any employee discharged, demoted, suspended, threatened, harassed, or in any other manner discriminated against in the terms and conditions of employment by an employer because of lawful acts done by the employee on behalf of the employee or others in furtherance of an action under the Act, including investigation for, initiation of, testimony for, or assistance in an action filed or to be filed under the Act. § 68.088, Fla. Stat. Ann. The False Claims Act incorporates by reference the right of action available under the Florida Whistleblower’s Act (§ 112.3187, Fla. Stat. Ann.), but also provides specific definitions for what constitutes false claims against the state (§ 68.082, Fla. Stat. Ann.) and civil actions for false claims (§ 68.083, Fla. Stat. Ann.).

IRS Whistleblower

The IRS Whistleblower Office, which was established by the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006, will process tips received from individuals who spot tax problems in their workplace, while conducting day-to-day personal business or anywhere else they may be encountered.

An award worth between 15 and 30 percent of the total proceeds that IRS collects could be paid, if the IRS moves ahead based on the information provided. Under the law, these awards will be paid when the amount identified by the whistleblower (including taxes, penalties and interest) is more than $2 million. If the taxpayer is an individual, they must have at least $200,000 in gross income.

The Whistleblower Office will be responsible for assessing and analyzing incoming tips. After determining their degree of credibility, the case will be assigned to the appropriate IRS office for further investigation.

Submissions that do not qualify under 7623(b) will be processed under section 7623(a). These cases will continue to be considered through regulations appearing at 26 CFR 301.7623-1.

  • The award is at the discretion of the Service, there is no requirement that an award be issued.
  • The discretionary award is based on additions to tax, penalties, and other amounts collected as a result of administrative or judicial action resulting from the information provided.
  • No minimum statutory award percentage
  • No appeal provisions

State Tax Whistleblower

Many states, including Florida offer rewards where informants bring to light tax violations. The Florida Department of Revenue offers rewards where the information leads to the collection of unpaid taxes.


Other Federal Whistleblower Acts

  1. American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Pub. L. No. 111-5, Div. A, Title XV (Feb. 17, 2009).
  2. Asbestos School Hazard Detection Act of 1980, 20 U.S.C. § 3601;
  3. Department of Defense Authorization Act of 1984, 10 U.S.C. § 1587;
  4. Department of Defense Authorization Act of 1987, 10 U.S.C. § 2409;
  5. Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA), 45 U.S.C. § 51;
  6. Federal Mine Safety and Health Act (FMSHA), 30 U.S.C. § 801;
  7. Hazardous Substances Release Act, 42 U.S.C. § 9601;
  8. Jurors’ Employment Protection Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1861;
  9. Longshoremen’s & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, 33 U.S.C. § 901;
  10. 1Migrant Seasonal and Agricultural Worker Protection Act, 29 U.S.C. § 1801;
  11. Public Health Service Act, 42 U.S.C. § 201;
  12. Railroad Safety Authorization Act of 1978, 45 U.S.C. § 421;
  13. Surface Mining Control & Reclamation Act, 30 U.S.C. § 1201; and
  14. Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989, Pub. L. No. 101-12, 103 stat. 16.
  15. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. Pub. L. 107-204, July 30, 2002.

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