Whistleblowers’ legal protection from retaliation

On Behalf of | Dec 6, 2021 | Whistleblowers

Employees who report that an employer violated a federal law may provide evidence to validate their claims. They may also do so without fear of reprisals. As noted on the Whistleblowers.gov website, an employee could provide evidence that includes emails, phone records, products or contracts.

A whistleblower’s report may, for example, include emails showing his or her employer ordered employees to ignore standard safety procedures. Based on the report, an investigator could contact an employer to request a response to the allegations.

Federal law prohibits retaliation against employees

The U.S. Department of Labor website notes that employees have legal protections when reporting misconduct. Workers have a right to a safe and healthy workplace and may freely report violations. Their reporting could also relate to environmental, food or consumer safety issues.

Employers found retaliating against employees who filed reports may face legal action. A retaliatory termination could classify as an unlawful act. Retaliation also includes reducing an employee’s wages or changing his or her schedule.

Whistleblower retaliation complaints must prove four elements

After experiencing retaliation, employees may file a complaint against their employers for relief. According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration website, a whistleblower must prove four main factors in a retaliation claim.

An employee must first prove he or she submitted a report. The complaint must also show that the employer knew the employee submitted it. The employee’s report must have then resulted in an employer’s adverse reaction. Finally, the employer’s motivation to retaliate must have violated whistleblower protection laws.

The court may award whistleblower damages when evidence shows a retaliatory firing occurred. Remedies could include the lost wages that an employee would have received but for the wrongful termination.