An employee who reports discrimination or harassment is protected from any reprisal on the part of their employer. A company or other organization cannot legally discipline an employee for exercising legal protections. If you decide to submit a retaliation claim, you’ll need to provide proof of the following three things:
- Taking part in an activity makes you eligible for government protection since it is guaranteed by the Constitution.
- The management of your organization has decided to punish you for your actions.
- The ramifications you’ve received from your job are a direct result of your actions.
What Does the Term “Retaliation” Mean in the Workplace?
Retaliation occurs when an employer takes action against an employee for using a legally protected privilege. If you reported a concern with workplace safety and then were given shifts that you did not want, you may have a case for unlawful retaliation against your employer. You may have grounds for a claim of illegal retribution in this situation.
Workers who engage in an internal investigation undertaken by their company are covered by the objection clause outlined above, notwithstanding varying court opinions on the question of if this provision affords such protection. Despite conflicting rulings from the courts, this provision is still being used to safeguard employees.
Any enforcement action against this employee that is significantly adverse may be deemed retaliation under Title VII and other civil rights legislation if it is probable that the behavior would prevent a rational observer from complaining and otherwise engaging in protected activities. If it’s judged that the person’s probable feelings of discouragement from submitting a complaint are justified, then the action is prohibited. As the laws may only be enforced if workers report violations, the provisions have been liberally construed to shield employees from reprisal.
The following are some potential ways of retribution that might be taken into consideration as an example:
- A reduction in compensation, a promotion, or even termination are all possible consequences.
- Ratings drop
- It is possible that any aspect of one’s employment, including hours worked, responsibilities, and assignments, might be altered at any time.
Understanding the Factors That May Have Led to an Incident of Retaliation in the Workplace
Just showing that an employee participated in protected action and then had a negative job outcome is insufficient to establish causation between the two. If, for example, an employee complained to HR about harassment, and she and her team were subsequently removed as part of a cost-cutting drive that had been planned in advance, the employee might have a hard time proving that she had been retaliated against.
It would be difficult for the worker in this case to show that she was the target of retribution. When a negative action is performed against an employee but has no link to the employee’s complaint, it is not retribution. But, in most cases, discipline requires workers to provide proof of wrongdoing. The following are some instances of such evidence:
Retaliation may often be shown by showing that the employee suffered some kind of negative consequence right after filing a complaint.
Claims of retaliation require the complaining employee to show that the person who took the adverse action knew about the employee’s complaint or protected behavior. Because the person in issue didn’t act, it won’t be feasible to show that they did “because of” their complaint.
- When all other possibilities are eliminated, this is the sole remaining option.
An employee has a stronger case if they can prove that their employer had no reasonable basis for taking the adverse action, or that their employer’s justification is unreasonable. If an employee gets a salary drop immediately after filing a discrimination accusation and the employer claims that the department’s remuneration has been slashed, the company’s reasoning will sound questionable if other employees in the industry have not.
Lawyers Who Focus on Representing “Whistleblowers”
Many pieces of federal and state law offer incentives and protections for whistleblowers. If a whistleblower reports government fraud in accordance with these rules, they may be entitled to receive rewards. Workers who report misconduct inside their organizations are protected against retaliation, including termination or demotion. Whistleblowers often use the term “qui tam” to refer to the kind of litigation they initiate.
Forms of Whistleblower Claims
If you come forward with evidence of any of the various types of misbehavior that are considered “whistleblower claims,” you may be entitled to a claim. Some claims may be:
- Medicare/Medicaid fraud scheme
- Medical-related forgery
- Concealment of tax revenue
- Theft from contractors
- Fraud by a defense contractor
- Government corruption in the realm of public construction and improvement
- Ponzi schemes in the mining, logging, oil and gas sectors
- Investment scams
- Environmentally dishonest practices
- Mortgage scams
- Loan scams
- Financial scams in the name of disaster relief
- Fraud through customs
- Infractions of OSHA (https://www.osha.gov/n (osha.gov)), such as false claims
- Healthcare industry compensations
- Whistleblower retaliation
Whistleblowers, who are often referred to as relators, are eligible to receive between 15 and 30 percent of any money recovered as a result of their actions under the False Claims Act, which is the law under which the vast majority of whistleblower claims are submitted.
Legal Shields for Disclosure Reporters
Anybody with evidence of federal government fraud may file a “qui tam” lawsuit. Workers, clients, outside experts, and competitors are all considered external stakeholders. A whistleblowing worker puts themselves at grave risk when they report wrongdoing at their place of employment. Employees who report misconduct at their workplaces are shielded from retaliation such as firing, demotion, or harassment under whistleblower legislation.
Back pay, reinstatement, and other forms of compensation exist in the event of retaliation.
What to Look for in a Lawyer to Represent Whistleblowers
- Expertise garnered from years of practice
Legal battles involving “whistleblowers” are notoriously challenging. Whistleblower laws, such as the False Claims Act, are complex, so it’s important to have an attorney who is well-versed in them on your side. Click here for more on the False Claims Act. Due to their expertise, you will have less trouble locating relevant data and evidence.
- Proven track record of success
One can only rely on their own past experiences so much. You should also consider what you can learn from the experience. When hiring an attorney, ask about their prior whistleblower cases and how many they won. They’re more likely to win your case if they’ve had success before.
- In-depth familiarity with the regulations that protect whistleblowers
Whistleblower cases are exceptional and may give rise to a wide range of legal questions. Learn more about whistleblower protections by clicking here. If you want to protect your rights as a whistleblower, you need a lawyer who has expertise with such situations. Knowing the ins and outs of whistleblower legislation might give you peace of mind that the law won’t be used against you. It may be tempting to draw parallels between whistleblower attorneys and, say, lawyers who represent workers who have been wrongly dismissed or lawyers who defend whistleblowers who have been exposed to retaliation, but the reality is that effectively litigating a whistleblower litigation is a very different beast. The first two choices need a more narrow knowledge of whistleblower guidelines, while the third option requires a broader grasp.
- A dedication to acting in the patrons’ best interests at all times
While looking for an employment attorney to represent you as a whistleblower, make sure you choose one who will pay close attention to your concerns and provide clear explanations for any questions you may have. Being a whistleblower is already a challenging job without having to fear retaliation from the organization you’ve exposed. Having a lawyer who will fight for your rights and help you avoid trouble is crucial.