Retaliation and Whistleblowing

If you assert your rights or report wrongdoing in the workplace, you may be protected. Our attorneys can help you learn more and take action.

Under many employment statutes and legal principles, it is unlawful for an employer to take action against you for simply asserting your rights. For example, if you believe in good faith that you are being discriminated against or not being paid as you are supposed to be, and you complain to your employer or to a public agency, you may have an additional claim against your employer if it terminates you or subjects you to harsher employment conditions.

The U.S. Supreme Court has reaffirmed that Federal law prohibits an employer from taking an action that might dissuade a reasonable worker from making or supporting a charge of discrimination, even in a case where the action the employer took was not against the employee herself but against someone with a close personal relationship to her.

In many cases, judges or juries find there has been retaliation even where they are unconvinced that an employee has enough evidence to prove the elements of the underlying claim of discrimination.


While there is certainly some overlap between the concepts of whistleblowing and retaliation, there are differences as well. Whistleblowing is more commonly used to describe situations where an employee complains about conduct of an employer that does not involve the employee’s own legally protected workplace rights.

Employees are not always protected against actions their employers take in response to whistleblowing. Federal courts in recent years have taken a more narrow view of when an employee’s whistleblowing is protected. In today’s environment, the safest course for an employee who is concerned about an employer’s practices is to consult a lawyer before “blowing the whistle.”