HomeFAQsRetaliationWhat Should I Do If I’m Facing Whistleblower Retaliation?

What Should I Do If I’m Facing Whistleblower Retaliation?

If you are facing whistleblower retaliation as a result of reporting fraud or misconduct, you should seek the assistance of a whistleblower attorney right away. The reason being, most employers retaliate against whistleblowers because of the information of illegal activity that they possess.

A whistleblower attorney can help determine what anti-protections are afforded to you under one of the United States’ many whistleblower laws. In certain cases, a whistleblower attorney can help you qualify for whistleblower rewards for reporting your employer for a violation you may also be eligible to receive back and front pay and other punitive damages.

If you know of information of fraud or misconduct and have not yet reported it, keep quiet and contact a whistleblower attorney. Do not speak about your concerns with internal compliance or HR, as most of these departments exist to protect the company, not to address your concerns.

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Reporting Internally to Corporate Compliance Programs

Most whistleblower attorneys (not employer lawyers) work on a contingency basis, which means you pay nothing unless they recover damages or rewards for you. Our attorneys understand that some cases of retaliation lead to possible reward cases where you may be eligible to receive substantial rewards for your information.

Once retaliation has started, it’s very difficult to stop it, which is why an attorney is absolutely necessary. Companies who commit fraud or misconduct will go out of their way to ruin your reputation, physically and emotionally isolate you, and turn everyone against you. You need an attorney you can trust and who can help protect you using available retaliation laws.

Whistleblower Retaliation Examples

If you are facing whistleblower retaliation, you must recognize and understand what retaliation looks like to avoid it or stop it from occurring. Below are a few of the most common retaliation examples from our years protecting whistleblowers:

  • Termination of contract – an employer may decide to abruptly terminate your contractual relationship if they believe you are nosing around in their illegal business activity or speaking up about a possible safety or regulatory violation.
  • Forced relocation – an employer may, without much notice, require you to relocate to an entirely different state or country as a way of removing you from a certain situation where violations or illegal activity are being committed.
  • Physical isolation – an employer may put you in an empty office where there are no other employees or access to the same amenities that were once had on another floor, before reporting a concern or illegal activity.
  • Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) – an employer may unjustifiably put you on a Performance Improvement Plan, regardless of your actual performance. This is generally done after reporting a concern internally to compliance, management, or HR.
  • Pay Deduction – employers who retaliate may choose to reduce your salary or eliminate bonuses, while pointing to poor performance as a reason for the deduction.
  • Social Ostracism – employers will stain a whistleblower’s reputation by ascribing them with humiliating names, labeling them as promiscuous, and other forms of social and physical harassment.

According to a study from Bradley University professors, Dr. Tanya Marcum and Dr. Jacob Young, published in the DePaul Business & Commercial Law Journal, over two-thirds of those who speak up will lose their jobs or be forced to retire, receiving negative performance reviews, and be blacklisted from getting another job in their industry.

Whistleblower retaliation does not always take the same form. There are countless ways in which an employer can make a whistleblower suffer until they quit or are fired. And the harsh truth is, most whistleblowers will face retaliation for speaking up.

Whistleblower Retaliation Laws

Not every whistleblower retaliation law is the same. However, the strongest anti-retaliation provisions have been the ones found within the Dodd-Frank Act and other similar laws.

  • Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Retaliation – covering securities and commodities fraud whistleblowing, the Dodd-Frank Act Retaliation provisions make it illegal for any employer to discharge, demote, suspend, harass, or in any way discriminate against an employee in the terms and conditions of employment who has reported conduct to the Commission that the employee reasonably believed violated the federal securities laws.
  • False Claims Act Anti-Retaliation Provisions – covering government contracting, the False Claims Act can mitigate retaliation by providing relief to whistleblowers who were retaliated against for taking action in furtherance of a False Claim Act action or undertook efforts to stop a False Claims Act violation.
  • OSHA Anti-Retaliation Provisions – covering 25 industry-specific statutes, OSHA makes it clear that employers may not discharge or otherwise retaliate against an employee because the employee has filed a complaint or exercised any other rights provided to employees by the statute.

There are over 50 laws permitting job protection or permitting you to obtain financial rewards governing almost every type of whistleblowing. We suggest that you find the federal and state whistleblower laws that govern your industry to better understand your protections and rights.

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Rule 4: Find the Best Federal Whistleblower Law
Rule 5: Don’t Forget State Whistleblower Laws

It’s difficult to determine what type of laws may apply to you, given the vast number of laws that exist. If you’re facing retaliation, we suggest you learn more about your rights as a whistleblower by reading the Whistleblower Handbook. This book is a comprehensive guide to preparing yourself for whistleblowing, qualifying for financial rewards, and protecting yourself.

Whistleblower Retaliation Lawsuit Settlements

Whistleblower retaliation lawsuit settlements and whistleblower reward orders are drastically different. If you’ve experienced retaliation, you may file for reinstatement, back pay, payment for lost benefits, special damages, attorney fees, expert witness fees and costs. Recent or landmark retaliation lawsuit settlements include:

  • $650K Award (June 22, 2022)
    Massachusetts contractor’s unlawful retaliation against injured immigrant worker results in $600,000 in punitive damages and $50,000 in compensatory damages. (OSHA)
  • $958,000 in Damages (March 2, 2022)
    Aviation worker paid more than $898,000 in back wages, $50,000 in emotional damages, and $10,000 in attorneys fees. (OSHA)
  • $1.4 Million Penalty (December 20, 2016)
    Oil and gas company to pay $1.4 million to a whistleblower who was retaliated against after raising concerns internally about how reservers were calculated. (SEC)

To go a step further, whistleblowers who report fraud or misconduct to a regulatory agency, such as the SEC or CFTC, may be eligible to receive a whistleblower reward between 10 and 30 percent of the sanctions against the fraudulent entity. The frauds could be in the millions if not billions of dollars.

Our Landmark Retaliation Cases

Frequently Asked Questions

Whistleblower retaliation occurs when a company takes adverse action against an employee for engaging in a “protected activity,” such as reporting fraud, misconduct, or a safety issue internally or externally to regulators. Adverse action by a company includes a myriads of “punishments,” such as termination, reduction in pay, immediate relocation, demotions, and being put on a Performance Improvement Plan. Luckily there are many federal and state laws that protect those facing whistleblower retaliation, and rewards for those who have information of fraud, misconduct, or corruption.

To prove whistleblower retaliation, you need to be able to show that your internal report management or compliance directly lead to retaliation, such as being terminated, relocated, harassed, or given absurd job responsibilities. Other forms of retaliation might be to put you on a Performance Improvement Plan, even though your work is more than satisfactory, or to reduce your annual pay and/or bonuses.

When looking for a whistleblower retaliation lawyer, you should evaluate them based on legal experience. This means evaluating them on the number of retaliation cases they’ve fought and won, their pro-bono involvement in amending laws and supporting whistleblower rights, their authoritativeness in the field of whistleblowing and retaliation, and the total number of active years in which they’ve been practicing law.