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Four common forms of employer retaliation against whistleblowers

It takes a lot of courage for an employee to expose an employer who is engaging in illegal activity. Sadly, many employers will attempt to punish people for coming forward.

Fortunately, federal and state laws are in place to protect whistleblowers from employer retaliation. However, it continues to occur more often than people think. Oftentimes, employers will make their retaliation actions subtle to make it harder for a whistleblower to prove his or her claim in court.

As a whistleblower, it is important to know what forms of retaliation to look for. The most common forms of retaliation can include:

  1. Termination: Employers know how easy it would be to prove a retaliation claim for firing a whistleblower. As a result, employers try to be smart about how and when they terminate someone. In some cases, employers will not fire an employee right away to make it look like the termination was the result of something else.
  2. Harassment: This form of retaliation can take many shapes and sizes. While some whistleblowers might experience harassment in the form of severe threats, others might notice people being rude or acting with more aggression than before.
  3. Denial of promotions and raises: It can be difficult for whistleblowers to notice or prove that this is happening. In many instances, whistleblowers do not know the reason they did not receive a promotion or raise. It is important to keep documentation of all your emails if you believe your employer is retaliating against you. 
  4. Hostile work environment: Work is not always fun. However, this is especially true when your employer is treating you in a hostile way. Hostile environments might include being uninvited to regularly attended meetings or work outings. These negative interactions can cause people extreme distress.

If you believe your employer is retaliating against you, consult with an experienced employment law attorney to determine if you can file a lawsuit. No one should face retaliation at work, especially people who are brave enough to speak out against illicit activity.