What Are Whistleblower Protections?

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When you are working for any employer and notice something illegal or unsafe going on, you as an employee have the right to report it. As an employee, your employer cannot legally retaliate against you for advocating for your own safety. However, that doesn’t stop some employers from trying. Employers may sway their employees to not report a situation by threatening them with legal action, worse hours, or unpaid leave. According to United States Department of Labor, there are more than twenty statutes in place to protect a whistleblower. These statutes protect against retaliation in various occupations including health, airline, consumer product, and other occupational fields.

Whistleblower Protections Against Retaliation

There are protections in place if an employer does retaliate against an employee for whistleblowing by firing the employee or any other type of adverse action. However, adverse action may be subtler, making it harder to recognize initially. Sometimes, retaliation can take the form of a change in hours to a less desirable shift, removing job responsibilities, or disciplining for seemingly minor offenses. Whistleblowers have protection against these and other adverse actions such as demoting, firing or laying off, and more. In addition, if an employer retaliates, they may be legally responsible.

Filing a Whistleblower Complaint

If an employee feels that they are suffering retaliation, they can file a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA will then determine if the allegation has sufficient evidence to open an investigation under one of the protection statutes. During the investigation, both parties will submit all document copies related to the complaint. Both parties also have an opportunity to settle. Once the investigation is complete, the investigator will determine if there was sufficient evidence of a broken statute. OSHA will then send letters to both parties containing the outcome and remedies to resolve the situation.

Other Whistleblower Protections

There are four other ways whistleblowers have protection, particularly in the State of California. First, an employer may not make, adopt, or enforce any rule that prevents an employee form being a whistleblower. Second, an employer may not retaliate against an employee who is a whistleblower. Third, an employer cannot retaliate against an employee for refusing to participate in activities that violate federal or state law. Lastly, an employer cannot retaliate against an employee who exercised their rights as a whistleblower in former employment. Though rules are in place, bad actors may still try to prevent whistleblowing by establishing rules that violate these protections. Employees should be well-versed in their rights and feel confident that the law is on their side, even against retaliation.

McCune Wright Arevalo Can Help

Whistleblowers protect the rights, health, and safety of workers and consumers. MWA believes that whistleblowers are a valuable tool to keep illegal activities at bay. Whether it be a corrupt organization or a smaller entity, whistleblowers help keep them in line. If you are a whistleblower or know someone in a comparable situation, we are here to help. Our attorneys can help by giving you the guidance to protect yourself.

Contact McCune Wright Arevalo to schedule a free consultation by completing the form or calling (909) 345-8110 today!

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