Here is a scenario that is not uncommon. A person works in accounting and notices a disturbing trend in the paperwork submitted by the company’s top salesperson. She then did the right thing, which was to report the issue to the proper authorities. Unfortunately, rather than commending the employee, the company fired her, demoted her, or suspended her without pay.
The company officials may have violated her rights as a whistleblower by punishing her rather than the employee guilty of misconduct.
Under Michigan law, the whistleblowing employee must make the report of the misconduct verbally or in writing to a representative of a public body (such as a member of law enforcement, a state official, state agency, or member of the judiciary). Unlike in some other states, the mere act of reporting the wrongdoing internally to a supervisor or HR representative is usually NOT protected by law.
When you see wrongdoing, you have the right to report
An employee in a position of financial authority could do harm to a company through financial misconduct. The misconduct could cost more than someone’s salary for a year or might affect client accounts in some way.
Unfortunately, your employer may still decide to penalize you unfairly because they want to protect the person breaking the law or discredit you so that others won’t listen to what you claim about that misconduct. The company is in a difficult position when there are accusations of internal theft or breaking the law, and people may choose to cover it up rather than to risk the messy fallout of addressing it.
You can fight back against whistleblower retaliation
You probably expected that your employer would do the right thing, and you never anticipated that you would be the one punished for reporting someone else’s bad behavior. You do have options, though, including initiating a claim against your employer for their retaliation or their wrongful termination of you.
Knowing your workplace rights can help you better protect yourself against employer misconduct.