When companies break the law, disclosure of wrongdoing often falls on the shoulders of employees.
These people are called whistleblowers, and many of them put their careers at risk when they bring illegal activity to light. There are laws, however, that protect employees from retaliation.
Whistleblowers’ Protection Act
Michigan has a law called the Whistleblowers’ Protection Act. The law makes it illegal for an employer to discharge, threaten or discriminate against a worker because the worker reports – or is about to report – a violation of local, state or federal law. This could include altering the employee’s:
- Location of employment
- Terms of employment
If an employer retaliates, it may be a violation of the Whistleblowers’ Protection Act. These protections also apply to employees who participate in related investigations or hearings.
Keep in mind that workers who knowingly make a false report about illegal activity do not receive protection under Michigan’s Whistleblowers’ Protection Act.
How to report violations
Workers must report the illegal activity to a public entity. Examples under the law include a board or commission, law enforcement, or members of the legislative or executive branches of the state government.
If a worker wants to pursue a legal case, he or she must bring a civil action within 90 days of the violation.
Consequences for violations
If a company is found to have violated the Whistleblowers’ Protection Act, the worker may receive compensation, including: back pay, reinstatement of their benefits, actual damages and legal costs.
How to protect your rights
Reporting illegal activity by your employer can be daunting, even if it’s the right thing to do. If you have questions, contact an attorney who has experience in these types of cases.