whistleblower retaliation examples

Whistleblowers are vital in safeguarding public health, safety, and ethical conduct.

They’re individuals who bravely report wrongdoing within an organization, exposing potential fraud, waste, abuse of power, or violations of law.

Unfortunately, some employers retaliate against whistleblowers who speak up.

This blog post explores the concept of whistleblowers and retaliation, some whistleblower retaliation examples, federal protections, and when to seek legal guidance from an experienced federal whistleblower retaliation lawyer.

For immediate assistance, please call (800) 801-0598 or fill out our online form today. 

Understanding Whistleblower Retaliation

The National Whistleblower Center (NWC) defines a whistleblower as someone who reports, in good faith, potential dangers to public health or safety, violations of the law, or fraud, waste, and abuse within an organization. Reporting such illegal activity may result in retaliation.

The U.S. Department of Labor describes retaliation as any adverse action against an employee because they engaged in protected whistleblowing activity.

Federal whistleblower protection laws exist to shield employees who report suspected fraud, waste, abuse, or violations of the law from retaliation. The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) defines whistleblower retaliation as any action an employer takes to punish, intimidate, threaten, or interfere with an employee’s legal right to report wrongdoing. Retaliation can encompass a wide range of actions intended to punish, intimidate, or silence the whistleblower.

Examples of Retaliation for Whistleblowing 

Federal whistleblower retaliation occurs when an employer punishes an employee for reporting suspected illegal activity. Your employer’s negative actions can take many forms, both overt and subtle. 

Here are a few examples of retaliation:

  • Negative performance reviews. An employee who reports wrongdoing might suddenly receive lower evaluations. 
  • Reduced work hours or pay. This tactic can create financial hardship and pressure the whistleblower to resign.
  • Exclusion from projects or meetings. Being ostracized or deliberately left out of essential discussions can isolate the whistleblower and hinder their career development.
  • Social isolation and hostile work environment. Co-workers may ostracize the whistleblower, and the employer might create a hostile work environment.
  • Denial of promotions or training opportunities. Retaliation can also manifest as denying whistleblowers access to training or promotions they deserve.
  • Demotion or reassignment. Employees who raise concerns might be demoted to a less desirable position or reassigned to a more demanding or undesirable location or role.
  • Threats or intimidation. Verbal threats, disciplinary actions on fabricated grounds, or creating a climate of fear can discourage whistleblowers from speaking up.
  • Termination. The most blatant form of retaliation is that employers may fire or lay off whistleblowers after they report wrongdoing.

These are just a few tactics employers might use in an attempt to silence whistleblowers. If you suspect you’ve become a target after reporting wrongdoing, it’s crucial to document everything and seek legal guidance. Pines Federal can help you determine whether your employer’s actions are illegal and identify your potential remedies. 

Federal Whistleblower Protections

Fortunately, federal laws exist to protect whistleblowers from retaliation. The Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 (WPA) is a cornerstone of these protections. It applies to federal employees who report violations of the law, fraud, waste, abuse of authority, or dangers to public health or safety.

Here’s a closer look at how the WPA safeguards federal employees:

  • Broad scope of protection—the WPA covers a wide range of disclosures, not just blatant illegality;
  • Prohibition on retaliation—the law prohibits employers from taking any adverse action against whistleblowers for reporting wrongdoing; and
  • Remedies for retaliation—if retaliation is proven, whistleblowers can be reinstated, be awarded back pay, and receive other forms of compensation.

It’s important to note that the WPA has specific procedures for reporting violations and claiming whistleblower protection. Consulting with an experienced attorney with a background in whistleblower retaliation cases can ensure you follow the proper channels and maximize your chances of a successful outcome.

When to Seek Guidance for Whistleblower Retaliation Cases

Don’t hesitate to seek legal counsel if you’ve witnessed or experienced retaliation for reporting wrongdoing. An experienced lawyer can advise you of your rights under federal whistleblower protection laws, help gather evidence of retaliation, and guide you through the legal process. Remember, your voice matters, and you don’t have to face retaliation alone.

Have You Been Silenced as a Federal Whistleblower? Get Your Voice Back with Pines Federal

We are a nationwide firm dedicated solely to federal employees, so we understand your unique challenges. With over 60 years of combined legal experience, our attorneys have championed the rights of federal workers, with a proven track record of success.

Don’t settle for a lawyer who dabbles in federal employee law. Choose Pines Federal, the firm with the unwavering focus and years of experience to help you get the justice you deserve. Contact us online or call (800) 801-0598 today for a consultation, and let us amplify your voice.