Across the nation and right here in New York, businesses are subject to many different state and federal rules and regulations. The law dictates how they must report their earnings, where they may dispose of their waste, and how they may hire and fire their employees. Managing these and other regulatory matters can be difficult, and businesses do not always meet the mandates they are required to follow.
When an employee learns that their employer is in violation of the law, they may choose to report the infringement to the proper authorities. This is how the employee becomes a whistleblower and may gain important protections to their employment. This post will further explore whistleblowers and what happens when they suffer retaliation at the hands of their employer. This post should not be read or used as legal advice.
Becoming a whistleblower in the workplace
Choosing to become a workplace whistleblower can be a thankless and difficult experience. Depending on the intent and goals of an employer, a whistleblowing employee may find that their work conditions change significantly once they have informed authorities of their employer’s wrongdoing. Often these changes are unlawful and fall under the category of retaliation.
Retaliation happens when a worker is effectively punished for doing something contrary to their employer’s interests, such as blowing the whistle on regulatory violations. An employee may be demoted, lose job privileges, or even be fired for attempting to do the right thing as a whistleblower. These actions are not permissible and can be challenged by affected employees.
Stepping up to whistleblower retaliation
When a whistleblower suffers workplace retaliation, they may not know where to turn to right the wrongs that they have suffered. A good first step is to contact an employment law attorney to help them understand and protect their rights.
There are different ways that retaliation may be addressed. Based on the type of retaliation, the grounds for the whistleblower’s complaint, and other factors, those remedies may be different. For example, under some whistleblower protection laws, fired whistleblowers may seek to have their jobs reinstated and their backpay credited so that they are made whole despite suffering employment termination.
Retaliation can impact workers who are not granted whistleblower status, such as individuals who choose not to accept the sexual harassment of their supervisors and those who speak up when discrimination happens at work. It is a pervasive problem in America workplaces, and often employees choose to move on with their lives instead of fighting for their rights. It is the decision of an affected worker to decide how they wish to address whistleblower retaliation claims, but it is helpful if they are knowledgeable about their rights before they make any determinations. Support and guidance from employment law attorneys can be invaluable for individuals in these difficult situations.