When you work for an organization that is involved in wrongdoing and decides to expose what is happening, you are protected against retaliation under whistleblower laws. Workplace retaliation legislation differs slightly from whistleblower laws, but they are often discussed interchangeably because they are so similar. These laws exist to encourage employees to report violations without fear of reprisal, so if you think your employer could be targeting you after you reported workplace issues, see a labor attorney. Here is what you need to know.
What is the difference between a whistleblower and workplace retaliation protection?
The difference between these two aspects of employment law usually comes down to scope. When a whistleblower reports an activity, the violation usually affects a large group of people. For instance, if a company is dumping waste illegally and an employee reports it because it could harm the entire community, that employee will usually be protected by whistleblower protections. On the other hand, if that employee files a complaint about discrimination or wage theft that only he or she is experiencing, workplace retaliation protections come into play.
What activities by employers are prohibited?
Generally, employees are protected from employers taking any kind of adverse employment action against them in the workplace. This can involve cutting their hours, cutting their pay, demoting them, passing over them for a promotion for which they are qualified, or terminating them. What counts as adverse actions and which employees are protected varies from state to state, and different courts can even interpret these terms differently.
What should I do if I think my rights are being violated?
If you think your employer is targeting you for adverse actions, contact an employment law attorney. This area of law can be complex, so it is important to choose an attorney with experience in whistleblower and retaliation cases. Keep a record of all of the incidents that you think could qualify as retaliation for your lawyer to evaluate.