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Whistleblower rights: Did retaliation occur?

If you come across any type of wrongdoing at your place of employment, you may wish to speak up in an attempt to remedy the situation as soon as possible.

Even though speaking up may sound like the right thing to do, and it typically is, this doesn't mean that everything will end well. If you do this, your employer may not appreciate what you were trying to accomplish. As a result, they may begin to treat you poorly.

There is a lot of information pertaining to whistleblower rights and retaliation. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, for example, allows workers to contact them if they feel they have been a victim of retaliation.

Since there can be some gray area, here are the ways OSHA determines if retaliation took place:

-- The employee engaged in some type of protected activity.

-- The employer was aware of the protected activity.

-- The employer took some type of adverse action, such as a demotion, against the employee.

-- The protected activity contributed to the adverse action.

It is easy for a whistleblower to believe he or she is doing the right thing. It is also easy for this person to believe that their employment rights will be protected.

There are situations in which an employer takes adverse action against a person for blowing the whistle. If this happens, the employee must know his or her rights. Furthermore, they should have a better idea of who they can speak with about the situation. This will ensure that they don't end up in a worse position as a result of the action.

Source: Occupational Safety and Health Administration, "Your Rights as a Whistleblower" accessed Mar. 11, 2015

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