It takes real courage to speak up when you know that your employer has done something illegal. Serving as a whistleblower could damage your relationship with your supervisor and make it harder for you to achieve your ambitions that your current place of employment.
However, when you know that your employer has done something illegal or dangerous, you may feel compelled to speak up and either report the matter internally or to outside regulatory authorities. Although the law technically protects those who serve as whistleblowers by identifying unsafe or illegal behavior at work, many businesses will still try to punish those who report issues at their place of employment.
What does workplace retaliation against whistleblowers usually involve?
Unfair disciplinary action
Has your supervisor started complaining about your job performance when the work you turn in is nearly identical to that of your deskmate, who receives glowing performance reviews? Has your department head started enforcing rules against you that they have historically ignored across the department or with you specifically?
Companies aiming to punish workers for reporting misconduct may use performance reviews or progressive discipline as a way to hide their retaliatory actions.
Worse prospects at work
In many professions, you rely on your supervisor’s opinion of you get ahead at work. Whether you work as a server and a high-end restaurant and no longer get scheduled for dinner service or you work in a sales department and don’t get the leads you used to, your employer may punish you by changing the way that they treat you on the job.
From reducing how much they schedule you for to decreasing the number of projects they assign to you, there may be subtle ways in which the company decreases your pay and job opportunities after you report misconduct internally or to a regulatory agency.
Technically, employers in California can fire you any time they choose. Still, they cannot fire you for a known, illegal, such as firing you as a way to punish you for acting as a whistleblower. It is often the timing of disciplinary measures or terminations that lets a worker know that these behaviors are truly employer retaliation and not standard employment decisions.
Knowing your rights as a whistleblower can help you fight back if your employer tries to unfairly punish you for doing the right thing.