Speaking out about illegal activity on the part of an employer or customer is a bold act, but it can sometimes lead to retaliation, or even termination of your employment. Katz, Marshall & Banks has the expertise and experience to help you navigate federal and state whistleblower-protection laws that prohibit such retaliation. Whether you are facing retaliation for blowing the whistle on wrongdoing in healthcare, aviation, pharmaceuticals, a public company or a financial institution, we have achieved national recognition for successfully representing whistleblowers in your industry and many others. We fight hard to win the compensation and other remedies that our clients deserve, and we have a strong record of achieving very favorable outcomes.
Know Your Rights
Whistleblowers help to keep the powerful and unscrupulous in check, making sure that regulators, shareholders, patients and other stakeholders are protected against illegal activity that threatens the public safety, health and financial well-being. Objecting to or reporting such activities should never result in the loss of your job, but when it does we can often help. Visit our Resources Page and read about different types of whistleblowing and the laws that may apply to you.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Workplace Retaliation?
Whistleblower retaliation is any adverse action that a company takes against an employee because he or she has reported, either internally, illegal conduct on the part of a company.
Termination is an extreme form of retaliation. But other actions, such as demotions or removing duties or withholding benefits, may be prohibited by laws that protect workers from retaliation.
What do I need to do before Filing a Whistleblower Claims?
To bring a whistleblower claim, one must first engage in “protected activity,” which is usually an effort to direct attention to potential fraud or other illegal activity. If our employer takes an adverse action against you because you have engaged in protected activity, you may have the right to redress
How to Determine if you’ve been Retaliated Against
1. Is retaliation costing you?
Being terminated from your job causes you tremendous economic harm, but so can the denial of a promotion, an involuntary transfer or the removal of important responsibilities. Even a retaliatory and negative performance review can lead to significant harm because your raises and bonuses are often based on positive reviews and feedback.
2. Did your work environment change when retaliation started?
The first sign of retaliation is sometimes a subtle change in the employee’s work environment after engaging in protected activity. Employers sometimes apply pressure gradually, hoping that the whistleblower gets tired of the mistreatment and quits on their own accord. This can also constitute “adverse action” sufficient to state a claim for retaliation. For instance, hostile remarks from the boss can isolate you and chill others from engaging with you. Retaliation can be inferred not just in the form it takes but from its timing, evidence of related animus or shifting explanations.
3. Is your employer affecting your ability to do or stay at your job?
Your employer may choose to retaliate against you by taking other actions to deter you from staying at your job or that affect your employment. This may include threats, increased surveillance, or spreading negative information about you through the company.
One of the most widely discussed—and litigated—federal whistleblower statutes is the anti-retaliation provision of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (“SOX”) that protects certain whistleblowers who report corporate fraud and financial or securities-related wrongdoing. SOX has a broad prohibition on retaliation, making it unlawful for a covered employer to “discharge, demote, suspend, threaten, harass or in any other manner discriminate against an employee in the terms and conditions of employment.”
One court found retaliation in violation of SEC guidelines where the employer mentioned an employee by name in an email to the finance and accounting team, suggesting he was responsible for starting an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The email caused many of the employee’s colleagues to shun him, impairing his ability to do his work.
Interpreting “adverse action” under the law protecting whistleblowers in the aviation industry, a court has found that that retaliation is any “unfavorable employment actions that are more than trivial, either as a single event or in combination with other deliberate employer actions alleged.” Some states provide employees with additional whistleblower protections with varying definitions of “adverse actions,” and you may have a remedy available that addresses your situation. Actions by your employer that constitute whistleblower retaliation may be hard to identify, particularly if you are unfamiliar with the specific statute that protects the form of whistleblowing in which you engaged. If you are uncertain whether the action your employer has taken is sufficient to form the basis for a whistleblower retaliation claim, the best course of action is to gather facts about the actions taken and speak with an experienced attorney who can provide you with an individualized assessment of your situation.
Whistleblower Retaliation - Additional Resources
Whistleblower Laws: https://www.kmblegal.com/practice-areas/whistleblower-law
What is Workplace Retaliation: https://www.kmblegal.com/practice-areas/discrimination-retaliation/workplace-retaliation
Wrongful Discharge: https://www.kmblegal.com/practice-areas/employment-law/wrongful-discharge
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: https://www.eeoc.gov/
Katz, Marshall & Banks' Whistleblower Successes: https://www.kmblegal.com/katz-marshall-banks-whistleblower-successes
Recent Whistleblower Awards: https://www.kmblegal.com/recent-whistleblower-successes