The government offers plenty of legal protection to workers who would blow the whistle on their companies, i.e. point out wrongdoings that the company has committed which may endanger employees, employers or even customers.
These protections will prevent a company from lashing out and retaliating against a whistleblowing worker. However, in order to receive these protections, a worker must first identify retaliation when it occurs.
Punishments and denial of opportunities
The U.S. Department of Labor discusses the possibility of whistleblowers facing retaliation. First, a worker may suffer from workplace punishments. Employers typically understand that they cannot openly retaliate against a whistleblower, so they may attempt to find more subtle ways to do so. They might change a worker’s schedule to incompatible hours, for example. Or they could reduce a worker’s hours or give them the most laborious or tedious types of work.
Denial of opportunities may also serve as a form of retaliation. A worker could miss out on fun work vacations, raises or other employment opportunities, with an employer claiming someone else has a higher level of compatibility. If the victim was actually more suited, however, it is a potential form of retaliation.
Illegal termination of employment
Finally, illegal termination may occur. Michigan, as an “at-will” employment state, reserves the right for employers to fire employees for any reason that does not infringe on legal protections. Many employers will try to find a different reason to fire a whistleblower, but in reality, it is simply a cover for retaliatory action.
It is important for workers in this situation to seek the compensation they can and protect their rights and livelihood in the face of illegal behaviors.