Former Florida Police Detective Resolves Whistleblower Dispute
A former police detective settled her whistleblower dispute against the city of Hollywood, Florida, for $155,000, according to an article by U.S. News & World Report.
The police detective in question formerly served on the special victims’ unit of the Hollywood Police Department. After her superiors decided to migrate the special victims’ unit to an open area of the police station, the police detective lodged a complaint. She felt that victims of sex crimes deserved a private and confidential space for privacy reasons.
After lodging her complaint, the police detective alleged retaliation from her superiors. She was relegated to patrol duties and unable to take advantage of specialized training or other opportunities. She regularly faced intimidation and threats.
In the aftermath of this incident and settlement, the police detective has switched jobs to start working for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Although the police detective has moved on with her life, it feels like a perfect time to review the Florida state approach to whistleblowing.
What is the Florida State Approach to Whistleblowing?
Generally speaking, Florida operates on the legal doctrine of at-will employment. This means that employees are free to leave their jobs without warning or cause. Similarly, employers can terminate workers without warning or cause.
Despite the at-will employment approach in Florida, there are limitations in place. Whistleblowing represents an important exception to at-will employment in Florida in the public, private and workers’ compensation arenas.
Under Florida Statute 112.3187, there are protections in place for whistleblowing in the public employment context. As outlined in this section, public employers – such as the state government or a police department – are not allowed to terminate employees for reporting legal violations or certain other improprieties. This limitation applies whether the worker in question is a contractor or fully fledged employee of a governmental agency.
Under Florida Statute 448.102, there are protections in place for whistleblowing in the private employment context. Essentially, private employers – including family-owned businesses and publicly traded companies – are not allowed to terminate employees for reporting legal violations. Though in this context, private employees must demonstrate that they tried to resolve the violation internally, before reporting the violation to a government agency.
Under Florida Statute 440.205, all employers are prohibited from terminating employees for filing a claim for workers’ compensation. It is unlawful for employers to engage in any retaliatory action in response to employees filing a lawful workers’ compensation claim.
Reach Out to an Adept Florida Employment Attorney Today
Whether you are a whistleblower or an employer dealing with the fallout of whistleblowing, there are many legal considerations at play. Don’t hesitate to contact Penichet Law in Miami, Florida for assistance with your case.