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What adverse actions might be used against whistleblowers?

Employees often try to do what they can to ensure that their employer is a successful company. In some cases, the employees might be put in a position that makes them aware that the employer is acting in an illegal manner. That realization puts the employee at a crossroads of sorts. The employee has to either report the illegal actions or keep their mouth shut. If the employee options to report the actions, they might end up facing retaliatory actions from the employer; however, retaliation in response to whistleblowing is illegal.

What are some retaliatory actions that employers take against whistleblowers?

Employers might take a variety of negative actions against the whistleblower. The employer might reduce pay, cut hours, deny benefits or demote the whistleblower. In some cases, the employer might try to issue new policies that are meant to punish the whistleblower. In other cases, the employer might get the employee blacklisted, reassigned to a less desirable position or deny the whistleblower a promotion. All of those actions are illegal if they are in response to the report by the whistleblower.

How can a whistleblower handle retaliatory actions?

Whistleblowers can file complaints against the employer for the retaliatory actions. These complaints must be filed in a timely manner. The time limit for filing complaints starts at the time of the retaliatory action. The exact amount of time varies according to the situation, but the time limit is anywhere from 30 days to 180 days. For example, complaints associated with the Clean Air Act have a limit of 30 days, but complaints associated with the Seaman's Protection Act have a limit of 180 days.

You may have more options available to you. Exploring all your options can help you determine how to handle your situation.

Source: Occupational Health and Safety Administration, "Your Rights as a Whistleblower," accessed Aug. 10, 2015

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