When Employer Action Becomes Retaliation

Most employees have seen Whistleblower signs in the workplace kitchen or lounge or wherever colleagues gather. The signs explain employees’ rights as a whistleblower and how to go about reporting wrongdoing in the workplace. One of the most important pieces of information listed is what to do if you feel your employer is retaliating against you when you “blow the whistle.”

Unfortunately, many employees don’t pay these signs much attention until the time comes when they need the information; at that point, however, it may be too late. If you think you are being retaliated against at work, you need to contact an experienced attorney who will protect your rights by conducting an investigation into the allegations.

Here are some things to consider regarding retaliation:

  1. It’s easy to consider “being fired” as retaliation for whistleblowing or any other activity that isn’t directly linked to job performance. However, it could be less obvious behavior; perhaps being shunned repeatedly during meetings or getting less in your Christmas bonus envelope.
  2. Employees are protected from retaliation. This is especially true when it comes to whistleblowing.
  3. You can’t just allege retaliation, you must have proof. If you decide to file a lawsuit, be prepared to discuss with a skilled lawyer why you think the actions taken amount to retaliation. New Jersey is a at-will employment state. This means your boss can let you go for any number of reasons. Therefore, if you feel you were fired, or otherwise poorly treated because you blew the whistle, you need to be able to prove the cause and effect of retaliation.
  4. Here’s something you may not know: retaliation doesn’t have to take the form of vengeance. There doesn’t have to be screaming, public shaming and name calling involved. You, as the employee, simply need to have proof that actions taken by your boss were taken in response to some action you took.

Fear of retaliation is real, in spite of the laws that protect employees. It’s important, however, to report wrongdoing in the workplace whenever you see it. And, if you do feel the backlash, contact a lawyer who will fight for your rights. If the wrongdoing involved fraud against the government, for example, you stand to be compensated handsomely if your whistleblower case is successful.

Talk to the experienced whistleblower lawyers at Begelman & Orlow, P. C. today for a consultation about your case.

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