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Recognizing workplace retaliation

On Behalf of | Dec 21, 2023 | Whistleblowers |

Reporting your company’s illegal or unethical activities takes a lot of courage. Many employees would be reluctant to do it out of fear of retaliation.

Most employers know that harassing a company whistleblower is illegal. Therefore, their approach may be more subtle. 

Protecting whistleblowers

Michigan’s Whistleblowers’ Protection Act protects employees who report, or plan to report, suspected violations of local, state and federal laws. It prevents their employer from terminating or disciplining them in retaliation. 

Employers who violate the Whistleblowers’ Protection Act can face severe legal consequences. The employee can bring a civil lawsuit against the company for damages and receive reinstatement, back pay, and compensation for any harm they suffered. In addition, the employer may be required to pay a part of the litigation fees and a fine of up to $500.

In an attempt to circumvent the law, some employers may take a more subtle approach of retaliation, such as:

  • Isolation. The employer starts to exclude the whistleblower from important meetings or social events.
  • Mockery. The whistleblower may be subject to false accusations and negative rumors or be made a laughingstock.
  • Reduced hours. The employer may start to decrease the number of hours the employee works.
  • Passed over for promotions. The whistleblower is unable to find opportunities for advancement.
  • Increased discipline. The employer scrutinizes the whistleblower’s work and disciplines them for slight infractions.
  • Decreased responsibilities. The whistleblower may discover their job duties are being scaled back.

All of these methods are designed to be demoralizing to the whistleblower and can create a hostile work environment.

The law is on your side if you believe you are being targeted because of your whistleblowing activities. Review your situation with someone who can help determine if you have grounds for legal action.


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