Employers often make a giant mistake when they think an employee has reported wrongdoing. They put the screws to the whistleblower.
Retaliation can take many shapes:
- Create a toxic work environment - The employer can make your life miserable in many ways.
- Harassment - The employer can verbally badger the employee, or even abuse him or her physically.
- Cause financial harm -- If you have a spouse at the same company, the employee may terminate their contract in order to punish you.
- Reprimand -- The employer can enter negative information in the employee's evaluation file.
- Transfer - The employer can "promote" the employee to a job or project or hours or location no one wants.
- Threaten -- Employers have been known to blow the whistle on whistleblowers, reporting them to ICE or law enforcement.
- Spread poisonous rumors - The employer can plant a story that impugns your reputation.
- Double your workload - One way to retaliate is to make your job so difficult you don't want it any more.
- Deny your rights - Your employer refuses to let you take family medical leave.
Many of these actions are illegal by themselves. When they arise from a deliberate effort to punish you for reporting wrongdoing, or complaining to a government agency, they are in even bigger trouble.
Chances are, this is the first and only time you will blow the whistle on an employer. You must understand that you are taking a lot upon yourself. Most employers will consider retaliating against you, pressuring you to back off.
If you did not follow the proper steps when blowing the whistle, addressing the issue may be challenging. Even if you did, it is important that you choose an experienced attorney to make certain that matters are resolved as quickly as possible so you can move forward.
The two laws applying to whistleblower retaliation, Sarbane-Oxley and the Ohio Whistleblower Statute specify how to report what you know. You will want to work with a law firm that has been down the whistle blower road before, and can help you navigate the difficulties that lie ahead.
Whistleblower protection under state and federal law is complex, and the situations that prompt whistle blowing are usually messy. Don't go it alone. Call the lawyers at our Dublin offices, for guidance in this challenging matter.