An honest and brave Twin Cities executive who reports wrongdoing at their company can change things for the better, both at the business and in society generally. But they also expose themselves to potential retaliation from their employer. Too many Minnesota businesses use retaliation and the threat of retaliation to punish whistleblowers and intimidate their executives and managers into silence.
This often means firing the whistleblower, but that is not the only form of illegal retaliation. As the U.S. Labor Department explains, other common retaliation methods include:
- Denying a deserved or previously promised promotion.
- Disciplining the employee for dubious reasons.
- Denying benefits.
- Pay cuts.
- Intimidation, harassment and threats.
- Undeserved negative performance reviews.
- Change in treatment to mocking or shunning the whistleblower.
- Creating a work environment so toxic that the whistleblower is forced to quit — known as constructive termination.
If you are questioning whether the treatment you have gotten at work since you blew the whistle is retaliation, keep in mind that your employer does not have to fire you to break the law. Both OSHA at the federal level and the Minnesota Whistleblower Act prohibit much more than firing in retaliation. For example, the state Whistleblower Act says an employer “shall not discharge, discipline, threaten, otherwise discriminate against, or penalize an employee” for reporting illegal activity at their workplace.
A team fighting for your rights
Both state and federal law require you, as the victim of workplace discrimination, to take legal action on your own behalf. Suing your current or former employer can be a tricky process, but an experienced employment law attorney can ease your concerns and work with you to develop a clear, practical strategy.