Come to know that your employer is going against laws and regulations or engaged in something dangerous for public health and safety. You might be eager to disclose every piece of information you have to the competent authorities. You will be a whistleblower in that situation. After reporting against their employers, the whistleblowers might face retaliation from the former.
Retaliation happens when an employer decides to take any adverse action against an employee who becomes a whistleblower. Retaliation can be in the way of termination, salary reduction, demotion, loss of benefits, exclusion, and loss of hours. Several federal and state laws are in place to protect them in such scenarios. Learn more about whistleblowing and retaliation.
What are Whistleblowing and Retaliation Laws?
Numerous public health and safety law violations are happening every day. However, no one reports against such violations owing to fear of facing retaliation. The major reason is that an individual’s livelihood and health insurance depend on their job. Therefore, the risk of losing their jobs bears down heavily on their minds. However, if there are laws to help those whistleblowers from any retaliation, they are more likely to report unlawful activities.
In a protected environment, more and more people will be willing to protest against any wrongdoing. That will ensure a safer and healthier world. Suppose an employer takes any action against an employer who engages in an activity protected by law. In that case, there are laws like wage and hour protections, health and safety laws, anti-discrimination laws in place to protect the employee.
Laws such as taxpayer-funded programs, environmental laws, and government regulation of industries like airlines, trucking, and nuclear power protect employees who act as whistleblowers and report against this gross mismanagement, fraud, abuse of power, and any other illegal activity.
Whom Do the Whistleblower and Retaliation Laws Protect?
The law protects employees reporting against an illegal activity carried out by the employer, labor organization, or employment agency. Whistleblowers can include current employees, former employees, and applicants as well. An employer can’t refuse to take an applicant on board just because they have filed a complaint against retaliation by her former employer.
Besides that, employees whose work authorization and citizenship depend on their job receive protection under whistleblowing and retaliation laws. In other words, an employer cannot threaten to disclose the immigration status of an employee for whistleblowing.
Is There Any Conduct Not Protected by Laws?
Of course. If you get in a verbal fight with your supervisor or employer about what’s right and wrong on the job, and you punch them, there is no law to protect you from being fired or being penalized. As per the courts, impulsive behavior about a protected activity does not fall under the same category.
At the same time, employers cannot take action against any employee as long as their conduct is permissible under the law. If an employee behaves in a way that doesn’t lie within the defensible bounds of conduct, they will no longer be under legal protection from retaliation. Therefore, in any kind of situation, an employee needs to keep cool.
What If Your Employer Isn’t Aware That You Are Part Of Any Protected Activity?
In cases where the whistleblower has attempted to be anonymous, the employer might not know that they are protected by law. However, some courts might use inferences to conclude who has been under the employer’s scanner.
If you were one of those who had the relevant information and the courage to protest, the judge might find it easy to infer knowledge about the employer.
If an employer investigates an employee, this will imply that the employer knew about the protected activity. To avoid such a situation, a bunch of sophisticated whistleblowers makes their protected activities public.
The sad part is that food, drugs, and health care laws don’t contain any employee protection. In certain cases, there are laws in place against unsafe working environments, fraud, or pollution to make things easy for whistleblowers. However, some courageous whistleblowers might not have any legal relief despite this.
One cannot deny that the brave whistleblowers risk everything and continue to make the world a better place. But they continue to face retaliation from their employers for voicing their concerns. Here’s hoping that the laws continue to protect the interest of the whistleblowers.