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The way you complain can change your retaliation protections

Whistleblower laws were designed to protect employees when they feel the need to report wrongdoing in the workplace. They could be reporting fraud, a breach of safety regulations or reporting on employment issues like sexual harassment or discrimination. In any case, they need to be free to take appropriate action without fear of losing their jobs, which is why these laws were passed in California.

Did you know, though, that the way that you complain sometimes determines whether or not you are protected from a boss's retaliation? It's very important to follow the letter of the law so that you don't accidentally invalidate those protections and end up getting demoted or fired.

For instance, some regulations say that you must go to a superior and turn in a written account of your complaint. Others say to ignore your supervisor and instead report directly to a government agency. Still others say that just objecting to what is happening and refusing to participate on your own is enough.

As a rule of thumb, you typically want to write down all of your complaints. For example, you may find out that you just need to talk to your boss in person, without a formal written complaint. Still, it does not hurt to make multiple copies of a written complaint and then take them along when you file the verbal complaint. This hard copy ensures that your side of the story is well represented, meaning it's harder for a boss to claim anything else happened.

You shouldn't have to worry about retaliation when you do the right thing, and it's wise to know exactly how to do this, from a legal perspective, to protect yourself and your career.

Source: AOL, "4 Times When You Should Complain About Your Boss," Donna Ballman, accessed May. 22, 2015

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