Making the decision to be a whistleblower–that is, to report any illegal or unethical activity that is occurring within a business, such as embezzlement or labor violations–isn’t easy. However, reporting information to the appropriate source is the right thing to do, and there are a number of whistleblower protections in place to ensure that you are not retaliated against. Here’s what you need to know:
The United States federal government has initiated whistleblower protections to help keep those who report illegal information safe. These whistleblower protections include protection from any adverse action being taken against the worker, including:
- Firing the worker/laying off the worker;
- Demoting or denying a promotion;
- Refusing to rehire;
- Reducing hours, tasks, pay, etc.;
- Denying benefits;
- Disciplining; or
- Harassing the worker.
File a Whistleblower Complaint
If you report an illegal activity to the appropriate governing body, such as reporting a labor violation to OSHA, you are doing the right thing. As stated above, your employer is prohibited from retaliating against you. If they do, you should file a whistleblower discrimination complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor. You can make this type of complaint online, in person, by letter, or by telephone. Your complaint can be made in any language.
Once your complaint is filed, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will investigate the complaint. If OSHA determines that you have indeed been discriminated against, you will be entitled to recompense, which may be in the form of being restored to your old position, or being paid lost wages or benefits.
Working with an Experienced Law Firm
If you think that something illegal is happening in the workplace, you should report it. While reporting it can be difficult and may make you worry about whether or not you will lose your job or become the victim of a hostile work environment, remember that your employer cannot discriminate against you for filing a whistleblower claim. It can seem like it is an impossible decision to make since the situation you observed or overhead could very likely involve a co-worker with whom you are friendly. It is also possible that s/he could be your supervisor or manager.
If you believe that you have been discriminated against and would like to learn more about your rights, contact our knowledgeable lawyers today to schedule a free consultation. Our experienced litigators will review your legal options with you.