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Can My Employer Retaliate Against Me For Whistleblower Actions



The term whistleblowing is often used as an insult, but those who report illegal actions taken by their employers perform a valuable social service at great personal risk. Fortunately, the law protects workers who attempt to force their employers to obey the law. If you were terminated, demoted or disciplined after acting as a whistleblower, you may have a case for workplace retaliation.

Know Your Rights

The law on whistleblower retaliation is complex and often contradictory. Some types of whistleblowing are protected by federal statute while others are covered only by state law. Before you know whether you have a valid case, you must determine what type of conduct you reported. Retaliation claims have been filed in many different types of cases, including:

  • OSHA violations - Federal law prohibits employers from retaliating against workers who report unsafe work conditions.
  • Military communications - Those serving in the U.S. armed forces have the right to communicate freely with members of the legislature.
  • Federal criminal investigations - Under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, employers are subject to criminal penalties for retaliating against employees who give law enforcement officers information about the commission of a federal crime.
  • General labor conditions - For some whistleblowers, the only protection comes from state law. Only an experienced employment attorney can determine whether your conduct is protected by your state's laws.

Proving Retaliation

Employers are not prohibited from firing any employee who has ever made a complaint. Whistleblower protections only apply if the employer intended to retaliate. This requires proving what the employer was thinking, which is generally impossible. Fortunately, most courts permit proof of retaliatory intent through the use of circumstantial evidence and presumptions. An employment lawyer can persuade the court that you engaged in whistleblower behavior, that your employer took action against you, and that there is no other explanation for the negative action. This will allow the court to presume that the employer acted with retaliatory intent.

Contact an Employment Lawyer Today

The laws governing whistleblower protections are vague and complex, but they can lead to lucrative settlements and large punitive damage jury verdicts. An experienced employment lawyer can help you prevail against the people who targeted your livelihood.