A whistleblower is a contractor or employee who uses evidence to expose illegal or unethical activities conducted by public entities or private organizations. Federal, state and local laws encourage whistleblowers to report fraud and strive to protect employees from employer retaliation. Some states have very few whistleblower or workplace retaliation laws while others have definitions that are very broad. An employee or his or her attorney should thoroughly research the state law regarding the definition for his or her state.
In 1970, whistleblower protections are those associated with the Occupational Safety and Health Act and its agencies (OSHA) which governs workplace health, food safety guidelines, and other physical safety standards in the United States. The OSH Act prohibits retaliation against whistleblowers who report safety and health-related violations by an employer. In 1989, the federal government passed the Whistleblower Protection Act provided legal protection to whistleblowers, making it illegal for their employer to dismiss them or cut their pay. However, whistleblowers are required to present information and other documents to prove employer retaliation as well as evidence to back up their statements. If it is found that they are lying, whistleblowers may be subjected to criminal charges. The purpose of whistleblower protection is to allow employees and contractors to report and testify about illegal acts,
Defining Employer Retaliation
Retaliation occurs when an employer or managing worker punishes an employee by cutting their hours, changing the functions of their job, or submitting them to hostility. Retaliation can be a subtle technique that hurts one’s career over time or a more-overt show of force of discrimination in order to cause some sort of reaction. Retaliation can include any negatively-perceived action, from changing schedules or making instructions unclear to submitting the employee to disciplinary action such as decreasing one’s pay. Retaliation is established once the employer or manager’s action causes undue hardship or is made in order to prevent the employee from whistleblowing.
Since federal and state laws work to protect both whistleblowers from retaliation, these retaliatory measures are illegal even if the whistleblowing claim turns out to be unsubstantiated, as long as the complaint was felt to be made in a moment of good faith, like perceived injustices. However, leaking private or secure information to sources outside of the legal pathways to report employer retaliation or other violations of the law.
Get Legal Advice
It’s important to speak with a trusted legal advisor about the entire experience, coming prepared to answer a variety of concerns about whistleblowing and all relevant protections. Documentation such as changed schedules or correspondence can be used as evidence of employer retaliation. As with any case, it’s important to build one’s argument based on evidence and proof. Speak with a legal specialist if one suspects retaliation. Keeping multiple copies of the evidence and whistleblowing statements nearby to fully explain the situation to the attorney. Ask specific questions.
File A Legal Complaint
To prove the case of employer retaliation, the whistleblower and their legal team will need to draw a line of evidence linking initial whistleblowing to any following retaliatory behaviors, using evidence and respect of the law to avoid the possibility of future situations that require a whistleblower and result in retaliation. These complaints make companies take notice on policies. Good laws are followed and transgressors are fairly treated by the system.
Whistleblower protection works to stop employer retaliation against federal employees, contractors, and workers for describing violations of the law; gross mismanagement; gross waste of funds; and danger to public health and safety. An employment attorney can help clarify personal whistleblowing situations or to define retaliation policies already in place, working with a variety of people to illuminate the policy of whistleblower protection and the definition of reporting and investigating complaints in an unbiased and serious way.