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The Fair Labor Standards Act protects employees and former employees against retaliation for complaining about wage-and-hour violations, including filing lawsuits. For example, an employer can’t try to punish a former employee by providing false negative references or otherwise interfering with someone’s job prospects. Basically, retaliation is anything that would dissuade a reasonable person from making the complaint in the first place. Fortunately, simply asking the former employee if he wants to settle a lawsuit isn’t enough, even if the effort is persistent and makes for an uncomfortable confrontation.
Texas law requires public employees who are fired by their employing agency to pursue internal appeals of that decision. Otherwise, they can’t sue in state court over alleged wrongful discharge for whistle-blowing. Government employers should make sure they raise that defense if they don’t have any record of the worker making an internal appeal.
Under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, commonly known as SOX, employees who report alleged accounting irregularities internally and to OSHA are protected from retaliation if their employer punishes the activity. Making simple statements that aren’t very specific can be enough to meet the employee’s reporting requirement under the law. It’s enough that the employee reasonably believes that he is reporting wrongdoing. He doesn’t have to know the details, just that it probably violates the law.