By Sandra Dalton, Staff Writer
In many cases, whistleblowers receive a reward for exposing wrongdoing. If you who suffer from retaliation, as a whistleblower, you may also receive damages to compensate you for your losses caused by the retaliation. This is in addition to any whistleblower reward and can be awarded even if you did not receive a reward for your participation. Damages almost always include back pay and lost benefits, and may include reinstatement or front pay, as well as compensatory damages and punitive damages.
Back pay includes more than the paychecks you missed or that were reduced. It also includes the value of the benefits you were denied as a result of whistleblower retaliation, such as:
- Unused vacation time
- Vacation time you would have earned, up until the date of the court’s decision
- Unused sick leave
- The value of unpaid health and life insurance premiums
- Stock options
- Pension benefits
- Any other benefits or compensation that you would have received from your employer if not for the retaliation
Compensatory damages are meant to “make you whole”. They can include:
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Financial distress
- Damage to career
- Loss of reputation
Reinstatement or Front Pay
When reasonable, you will be awarded reinstatement to the position you lost or to a comparable position with equal status and potential for promotion. However, if no such position exists or if the court decides that the workplace has become a hostile environment for you, you can receive front pay instead.
Front pay is what you have earned in the future if not for the retaliation. Like back pay, it includes the benefits you will now miss out on. Front pay is generally not life-time future income, but enough to cover the amount of time that the court decides it will take you to get into a comparable position with another employer.
Punitive or Liquidated Damages
Punitive damages are meant to punish your employer or former employer for its wrongdoing. Punitive damages are not always available, but when they are they can be very high.
Liquidated damages are a type of punitive damages, but they are a predetermined amount, typically double or triple the back pay award.
If you or someone you love has been a victim of whistleblower retaliation, you can learn more about your rights and how you can recover damages for your losses by searching our directory to find a lawyer near you.
Learn more about whistleblower claims.