Employers that are committing a violation of law may be called out by their employees that observe these actions. The legal violations may concern the environment, treatment of employees, or conduct regarding employee benefit plans. Employees should feel encouraged to make these complaints without worrying about ensuing unfair treatment or retaliation by their employer.
A former director of the audit and collections department for the Cement Masons Southern California Trust Funds has recently received lost wages and damages from the employer for their actions after her whistleblowing activities. The employee initially made an internal complaint against a business manager regarding ERISA violations, and then assisted with a federal investigation into the activities. After providing assistance, she was placed on administrative leave by the board of trustees for the company. Her department was later outsourced, and she was the only employee not hired. The Department of Labor found that the company retaliated against her and two other employees, but it took litigation to receive compensation.
Whistleblowers are employees that report legal violations by their employer or co-workers internally or to external agencies for investigation. The majority of states, as well as the federal government, provide legal protection for these individuals to encourage their activities. This protection is granted to employees under certain conditions, however. The employee must have a good faith belief that a violation has occurred, refuse to participate in the violation, and they must make an internal or agency complaint about the activity in question.
Whistleblowers are protected from retaliatory conduct by their employer, including wrongful termination, hostile work environment and harassment. For those employees that feel they are being treated unfairly by their employer as a result of their complaints, seeking legal assistance from an employment law attorney may help them evaluate their situation and assert their rights against the employer's actions.
Source: benefitspro.com, "Whistleblowers vindicated after consent judgment," Marlene Y. Satter, Aug. 28, 2015