Whistleblower Protection and Retaliation: What Employees Need to Know


How should employers respond to whistleblowing by their employees?

Don\’t Retaliate Against Whistleblowers Avoid trying to punish the whistleblower or change their relationship with the company. Enact a strict policy that prohibits your employees from taking adverse actions, such as demotion, termination, or creating a hostile work environment.

Whistleblower Protection and Retaliation: What Employees Need to Know

Whistleblower protection and retaliation laws exist in order to ensure that those who report workplace safety violations, fraud, and other wrongdoings are not punished for their actions. Whistleblowers play an indispensable role in our society, but often face serious repercussions for speaking out. As an employee, it’s important to know what whistleblower protection and retaliation laws look like so you can protect yourself in the event of a dispute.

Whistleblower Protection

Whistleblower protection laws are established in order to protect people who report wrongdoing in the workplace, such as unlawful activity that could result in harm to the public. The federal government\’s whistleblower protection laws extend far beyond the workplace—anyone who finds illegal activity within the government is protected by the law.

For those working in the US, the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 protects public employees from reprisal or discrimination, as long as they have not knowingly lied about the information they have reported. Additionally, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 provides protection for employees who report fraud in the financial sector. Furthermore, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 protects employees who report fraud and other misconduct violations related to financial instruments.


Retaliation is when an employer attempts to punish an employee for reporting illegal or unsafe behavior. Retaliation can include making threats, suspending or reducing pay, demoting, and other forms of punishment. If the employer’s action was taken in direct response to an employee’s whistleblower report, the employer may be found in breach of whistleblower protection and other labor rights.

Employees who believe they are victims of retaliation should contact their local labor board, as well as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA works with local bodies to ensure workplace safety and protect employees who have been subjected to unfair and illegal practices.

Seeking Legal Help

If you have experienced workplace retaliation as a result of reporting wrongdoings, it’s essential to seek legal help. An employment lawyer can help you determine if you have a strong case and will provide legal advice and representation in court or arbitration. You may be entitled to monetary damages, such as back pay, and the employer may be subject to punitive fines.

It’s important to understand the rights and protections afforded to you and your co-workers by whistleblower protection and retaliation laws. If you believe you have been wrongfully treated in the workplace, take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your job.

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