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How does Michigan protect whistleblowers?

The Michigan Whistleblowers' Protection Act was passed into law in 1980. It protects employees who have the integrity and courage to speak up when they know something unethical is going on at their place of business. A whistleblower is defined as "a person who informs on a person or organization engaged in an illicit activity."

The Act prohibits employers from discriminating or retaliating against whistleblowers. Employers are also prohibited from discriminating or retaliating against whistleblowers who participate in an investigation, inquiry, public hearing or court action.

What is considered discrimination or retaliation?

Discrimination and retaliation by employers usually comes in the form of demotions or firings. But it may include providing a hostile work environment or changing the terms or conditions of your employment. Some employers may even require you to relocate in order to keep your position.

What is the Act not obligated to do?

The Act will not protect you from any disciplinary action if you knowingly make a false accusation against your employer or company.

If your believe that your rights under this Act have been violated, what should you do?

You can file a civil action suit in the circuit court. The suit must be filed within 90 days of the alleged violation.

What are the penalties for violation of the Whistleblowers' Protection Act?

Violators may be fined up to $500. More importantly though, you may be reinstated if you have lost your job. You may also be paid any back or lost wages as a result of the violation. If you have lost benefits or seniority rights, those may be restored. Finally, you may be able to collect compensation for any other damages you suffered, such as defamation of character.

Source: MIOSHA, "Attention Employees," accessed Dec. 15, 2017

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