Clear, Confident Help To Solve Your Legal Problems

Can first responders be whistleblowers too?

On Behalf of | Jun 20, 2023 | Employment Law

If you are a first responder in Oregon, such as a firefighter, police officer, EMS personnel, nurse, dispatcher, doctor or corrections officer, you may witness or experience something in your workplace that you believe violates the law or endangers public safety. Please know that you have the right to report such issues without fear of retaliation from your employer or co-workers.

What is whistleblowing?

Whistleblowing is the act of reporting any information that you believe in good faith to be a violation of local, state or federal laws, rules or regulations. Whistleblowing can be done orally or in writing. You can report to any person or entity that has the authority to investigate or correct the problem, such as a government agency, media outlet, union representative, lawyer, etc.

What are the risks?

Whistleblowing can come with some risks. You may face hostility, harassment, intimidation, isolation or retaliation from your employer or co-workers who do not appreciate your reporting. Retaliation can take many forms, such as termination, demotion, suspension, reduction of pay or hours, removal of privileges or any other adverse employment action.

What are the protections?

Fortunately, you do not have to choose between doing the right thing and protecting yourself. As a first responder in Oregon, you have legal protections that prohibit your employer from discriminating or retaliating against you for whistleblowing.

According to the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, all employees working in Oregon are protected by the state’s civil rights laws that make it illegal for employers to discharge, demote, suspend or in any manner discriminate or retaliate against a worker for making a good faith report of information they believe violates the law.

Public and certain nonprofit employees in Oregon also have additional protections under the state’s public-sector Whistleblower Law that make it illegal for employers to threaten or take adverse action against an employee for disclosing information about waste, fraud and abuse. Private sector employees have similar protections under federal laws, such as the Occupational Safety and Health Act, Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the False Claims Act, among others.

Protecting and serving

As a first responder in Oregon, you have an important role in protecting and serving our communities. You also have the right and responsibility to report any violations of law or public safety that you witness or experience in your workplace. By doing so, you can be a whistleblower who makes a positive difference for yourself and others. You are not alone: there are laws and resources that protect and support you.