What if I get fired for being a Whistleblower?
So maybe you have witnessed dangerous working conditions or seen harassment in the workplace or maybe even been denied compensation for hour you worked. You subsequently notified someone from your employer about the illegal activities or maybe you went to a federal or state agency to address your concerns. As a result of you being a whistleblower, you were terminated by your employer. What do you do next?
Depending on the specifics of the matter, you may want to make a timely complaint with the EEOC or OSHA if your employer retaliates against you by taking an adverse employment action against you for being a whistleblower. OSHA is the agency within the Department of Labor that handles whistleblower retaliation claims by enforcing the retaliation provisions of 22 different federal laws. It is doubly important to be aware of the statute of limitations when filing a retaliation claim as some claims have to be filed within 30 days of the alleged retaliation.
While some employers may welcome the chance to weed out wrongdoing within their company, some employers are not so thankful for the exposure. Despite the crucial role whistleblowers play in our society, they often face retaliation for their actions. As a whistleblower, you may encounter many different types of workplace retaliation, including simple harassment, negative performance reviews, pay cuts, transfers, and even the loss of your job.
An alternative to looking outside your employer, would be alerting representatives from your employer about the illegal activities. This keeps the issues in house and potentially allows the employer to save face. There is a risk that your internal whistleblower complaint will not be given the attention that it deserves especially if your employer knows about the violations and wants them to continue. It is best to get an external unbiased agency or lawyer to address your concerns
As part of a retaliation settlement, the court can order that the employer reinstate you to your previous position at the same rate of pay. The employer is also prohibited from threatening, harassing, or outing you in an attempt to force you into resigning or quitting. Whistleblowers are also entitled to double back-pay when an employer retaliates through termination, demotion, or suspension. This means that from the moment your employer took an adverse employment action that resulted in decreased income, the court could award you double your lost wages or salary up to the point that you are reinstated.