Whistleblowers enjoy the protections of numerous laws. Federal laws offer protections, and Delaware’s state laws offer additional protections.
Whistleblower protections under state law
The Delaware Whistleblowers’ Protections Act is an act that protects employees who report a violation or who refuse to “commit or assist in the commission of a violation.”
There are three important facts in the Delaware Code that can help employees understand their rights. These facts are:
- If you are a whistleblower you can bring a civil action against your employer.
- The statute of limitations to do this is three years.
- If you win your lawsuit you are entitled to reinstatement to your job, back wages, benefits, seniority rights, a clearing of any disciplinary action or termination record at work, and actual damages. The court can also decide to award you attorney’s fees and any costs related to the court process.
Where does the term whistleblower originate?
Whistleblowing, the act of pointing out or making public wrongdoing by an employer or government body, has been around for centuries. Documented cases go back to 1564 when a Muscovite nobleman defected to Grand Duchy of Lithuania and exposed what Ivan the Terrible had been up to. The word has roots that run to Elizabethan times when “to whistle” meant to reveal secret information.
The term whistleblower possibly comes from early in United State history. During the Revolutionary War, a group of 10 sailors and naval officers literally “blew the whistle” when they discovered that British POWs were being tortured. Subsequently, in 1778 the Continental Congress enacted the first whistleblower protection law.