When a company is guilty of mistreating its employees, deceiving its customers, allowing its users’ sensitive data to be leaked, or committing illegal and unethical business or environmental actions, its owners and management can understandably want to “get back” at the employee who exposed the wrongdoings. But “getting back” at an employee in this position, known as a whistleblower, is illegal. Whistleblowers play an important role in protecting the public and all other parties who interact with their companies in some way and because of this, there are multiple federal laws in place to protect them and their right to disclose any critical information about their employers.
Types of Retaliation a Whistleblower Can Face
Whistleblowing is a protected activity, which means employers cannot terminate or otherwise “punish” employees for engaging in whistleblowing. Other protected activities include filing a discrimination claim, providing testimony to support a colleague’s claim, and becoming involved with a labor union. Actions that can be considered acts of retaliation for engaging in a protected activity include:
- Docking the employee’s wages;
- Harassment in the workplace;
- Discrimination against the employee in future decisions, such as whether to promote him or her or whether to involve him or her in projects and professional development; and
- Creating conditions meant to push the employee toward resignation, such as excessive scrutiny of his or her work, an unfair increase in the employee’s workload, and moving the employee into an uncomfortable work area.
How an Employment Lawyer can Protect a Whistleblower from Retaliation
An employment lawyer can help you file a retaliation claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and act as your advocate throughout the process. Your lawyer can help you gather and organize the necessary pieces of evidence to support your claim and keep your claim on track so you do not miss the statute of limitations.
There are other protection options available to you as well. These include:
- Creating a system in your workplace that makes it easy for employees to express their concerns to upper management or the company’s owners. This can be done anonymously if necessary. The system should include anti-retaliation training for supervisors and a strategy for resolving issues employees bring up;
- Familiarizing yourself with all whistleblower protection and retaliation laws so you know what you can and cannot do. Do not give your employer a valid reason to terminate you; and
- Your state’s guidelines for whistleblowers. You may be required to notify your employer or an industry regulator of the information you have before going to other outlets, such as the media.
Work with an Experienced New Jersey Whistleblower Protection Lawyer
If you have faced retaliation for exposing unethical or illegal actions or a security breach at your company, you have the right to seek compensation for your related damages through a retaliation claim with the EEOC. First, discuss your case in detail with one of the experienced employment lawyers at The Sattiraju & Tharney, LLP. We are one of New York and New Jersey’s premier employment law firms and can draw upon our skill and previous experience to protect you and your rights.