Whistleblower Retaliation

Anonymous and whistleblower are often used together, but what happens when someone finds out? In some cases, people have to be interviewed to get evidence and this is when corporate whistleblowing retaliation might occur.

Sadly, many employees never come forward for fear of retaliation. Even though it’s illegal, it can be hard to prove. It’s important to understand how it happens and what your rights are.

The EEOC released data between 2009 and 2013 regarding complaints from federal employees. In 2009, out of 16,947 filed complaints, 44% were regarding retaliation, with 45% of those complaints proven. That number rose to 48% in 2013. In another study, 65% of employees had the courage to speak up about unethical behavior in the workplace. However, 22% had to deal with whistleblowing retaliation. Even though the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act went into place in 2012, 30% of government employees still fear retaliation. Even worse is when those who report retaliation don’t get the justice they deserve. This leaves employees, not just federal, fearful of risking their careers if they report.

Common Types Of Whistleblowing Retaliation

Whistleblowing retaliation comes in many forms. From blatant firing to subtle bullying, it’s important to know if you’re being retaliated against before you make any official accusations. Most often, retaliation starts shortly after reporting wrongdoing or after the issue has been investigated.

Some of the types of retaliation people face after coming forward with corporate misconduct include:

· Being laid off or fired

· Harassment

· Threats

· Demotion or reducing hours

· Forced to change departments

· Being skipped over for promotions (trickier to prove)

· Denial of requested vacation (only get to take it when management says so)

· Decreasing pay

· Being blacklisted in the industry

Corporate whistleblowers can face one or any combination of the above. This may come just from the accused or from fellow co-workers who fear an employee may tattle on them too.

Side Effects Of Being A Whistleblower

Most often, people think the worst that may happen is a whistleblower may lose their job. However, for those who can’t afford to change jobs suddenly, they may try to stick it out. Harassment or a toxic environment can lead to anxiety, unhealthy amounts of stress, and depression.

Receiving threats can make a whistleblower fear for their life, causing them to leave everything they know and love behind. Of course, even if it seems as simple as just losing their job, their employer may try to block them from getting hired elsewhere.

Know Your Rights

Corporate whistleblowing retaliation isn’t going to go away completely, but knowing your rights is important. First, know that retaliation is illegal. Both state and federal laws exist to try to prevent this from happening. Second, gather proof for when you do come forward about the retaliation.

Remember, reporting unethical behavior is important. Coming forward over retaliation is just as important. Reporting your retaliation case to your ethics hotline will save other whistleblowers and protect the business’ reputation.