Whistleblowers contribute to safeguarding the public’s interest by reporting illegal activities or misconduct within government agencies. However, those who step forward to expose wrongdoing may face retaliation from their employers.
If you are planning to blow the whistle, or have already done so, you can benefit from learning to recognize signs of retaliation from your superiors or colleagues. This can equip you to report malicious behavior to the appropriate agencies in a timely manner.
Sudden changes in duties
One common sign of retaliation is a sudden and unexplained shift in your job responsibilities. Your employer may reassign tasks or remove you from projects that you were previously involved in. This can negatively impact your work performance and make you feel isolated within the organization.
Negative performance reviews
If your employer begins to give you consistently negative performance reviews despite your prior record of satisfactory evaluations, it could be a sign of retaliation. Be vigilant and document these reviews, as your employer might attempt to use them against you in the future.
Unwarranted disciplinary actions
Another clear indicator of retaliation is when you are subject to unwarranted disciplinary actions, such as suspensions, write-ups or demotions. Keep records of these actions and note if they are disproportionate to the alleged infractions.
Unjustified changes in working conditions
If you experience sudden, unfavorable changes in your working conditions, such as reduced hours, pay cuts or relocation to an inconvenient workspace, it may be a form of employer retaliation. Document these changes and consult your agency’s policies to ensure the protection of your rights.
Hostile or intimidating behavior
Hostile behavior from supervisors or colleagues is a clear sign of retaliation. It is important to maintain composure, document instances of such behavior and report them through the appropriate channels.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission reported a record number of over 12,300 whistleblower tips in 2022. Whistleblowers are more active than ever before and are striving to make workplaces better for everyone, so it is important that they have the right protection against retaliation.