No specific statute protects employees who blow the whistle on wrongdoing at FCC-regulated companies, but a patchwork of federal and state law prohibits workplace retaliation in many scenarios. Companies and employees alike should be aware of the rules in their jurisdiction.
This article by TELG principal Tom Harrington and TELG managing principal R. Scott Oswald was published by Compliance & Ethics Professional on July 25, 2014. The full article is available as a PDF on our site.
Company liability and employee protections for FCC whistleblowers
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has promulgated myriad regulations applicable to manufacturers of radio equipment. What employers and employees may not realize is that there is an added layer of liability that radiates from these regulations. If an employee discloses a violation of the FCC’s regulations, an employer may be liable for discharging the employee because of the disclosure. Both employers and employees should be aware that there is a patchwork of statutory and common law protecting employees against termination when they have disclosed FCC violations.
The Department of Labor enforces and administers the anti-retaliation provisions of more than 20 statutes. These protections for employees range from industries such as surface transportation to the financial sector. But not every industry is represented.
There is no particularized statute applicable to whistleblowers in the industries regulated by the FCC. Instead, employees working in this industry rely on a cobble-work of statutes and common law when they make disclosures to their employers.