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Wrongful Termination: Retaliation and Whistleblowing

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Suppose you were dismissed because you complained about your company engaging in illegal activities. In that case, you might be able to file a wrongful termination claim for retaliation and whistleblowing.

There are laws in place to protect employees – an employer is prohibited from terminating an employee for exercising their legal rights or engaging in protected activities.

These laws also protect whistleblowers. If an employee reports an employer (internally or externally) for breaking laws unrelated to workers’ rights, they are protected against retaliation.

Read on to learn how the law protects employees against retaliation and when to find a lawyer to defend a whilstleblower.


Retaliation Explained

It is retaliation when an employer takes adverse action to punish an employee for reporting legal violations or exercising their rights.

When an employee files a complaint for harassment, an unsafe work environment, or any other infringement on employment law, they are exercising their workers’ rights.

While government agencies enforce employment laws, it is usually up to the employee to step forward. These agencies do not conduct random audits, so they rely on workers coming forward to report violations. And, even when an employee does come forward, the government agencies rarely sue an employer for violating the law.

Even though a government agency might fine an employer for contravening the law, it is largely up to employees to bring a lawsuit against their employers.

Laws that Protect Employees from Retaliation

Wage and hour laws prohibit an employer from firing an employee for complaining about wage-and-hour-related issues. These complaints could be being denied breaks, failing to pay the minimum wage, illegally retaining a portion of tips or failing to pay overtime.

Leave laws prohibit an employer from terminating an employee due to taking leave in accordance with state laws, workers’ compensation laws, paid sick leave, or the Family and Medical Leave act.

Workers’ compensation laws prohibit an employer from firing or penalizing an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim for an injury that was sustained on the job.

Suppose you were dismissed because you complained about your company engaging in illegal activities. In that case, you might be able to file a wrongful termination claim for retaliation and whistleblowing.Click To Tweet

Health and safety laws protect employees against being terminated due to reporting health and safety violations in the workplace.

Harassment and discrimination laws dictate that an employer may not terminate an employee for filing a complaint about harassment and discrimination in the workplace – whether the complaint is filed internally or externally.

Employers also cannot retaliate against employees for participating in an investigation about harassment and discrimination. Anti-discrimination laws also prohibit an employee from retaliating when an employee exercises or enforces their legal rights.

Were You Fired for Whistleblowing?

Because retaliation and whistleblowing claims can be complex and the laws about bringing them vary from state to state, consulting with an employment lawyer is recommended.

A lawyer will be able to determine whether you have a strong case by examining specific statutes and violations of public policy. An experienced lawyer will review the facts of your case, as well as potential claims and how much they might be worth. An attorney will protect your legal rights and advise on the best strategy.

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