The 36-year-old former manager who once worked at both a Warren and Southfield Chase bank was awarded $370,000 at the conclusion of an arbitration session earlier this month.
Deciding to join the ranks of whistleblowers in the United States is a huge decision. Many people fear retaliation from their employer or their co-workers. Unfortunately, there are times when these fears have a basis in reality. Retaliation against whistleblowers does occur in some cases, even here in the Detroit region.
The laws that govern our nation are quite complex, making it difficult for those without a legal education to understand them in-depth. To make matters even more confusing, laws change frequently as the country continues to evolve and grow. New laws are passed as needed and outdated laws are removed as they become obsolete.
The woman who until October headed the internal affairs department for the Michigan State Police is suing the department and its top two officials, claiming she was forced to retire.
Imagine this: you notice a workplace safety and health issue. You then engage in a protected activity -- by reporting the problem -- to keep yourself and others from harm. Maybe you even report the issue to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. You were just trying to do the right thing, but your employer suddenly retaliates against you. Maybe your hours get cut or you're given an unfavorable position within the company. Maybe you're even fired.
The former veterans services director of Livingston County, Michigan, has filed a lawsuit against the county and the chairman of its Veterans Services Committee, contending he was fired for reporting what he perceived as misconduct by the chairman.
Workers in the United States are trained to understand that the employer is in charge, and they need to follow directions at all times. In certain situations, this is fine. However, this mindset does sometimes cause workers to think they have to ignore unethical or even illegal behavior because they are not in charge.
No federal employee should have to keep his or her mouth shut after viewing unlawful behavior at work. In fact, the federal Whistleblower Protection Act was created for the express purpose of protecting government workers who witnessed immoral, wrongful or illegal conduct at their jobs -- so that they can report it to authorities without fear of consequences.
Whistleblowers are people who witness unlawful or unethical behavior at their workplaces and decide to tell authorities and others about it. In most cases, people who "blow the whistle" on their employers receive more difficulty and headache than they do fame and notoriety, but sometimes, a whistleblower could go down in history.
One of the biggest dangers of becoming a so-called "whistleblower" is the threat of employer retaliation. Imagine, for example, that you work for a construction firm that engages in numerous Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) safety violations because it's too "cheap" to pay for legally required safety improvements.