Intimidation and Retaliation
"Blowing the whistle," can be something as simple as disclosing a rules violation to OSHA or another appropriate regulating body— an action not intended to cause trouble, but one that can be interpreted as a negative for company image.
Some employers would rather their employees keep silent on an issue of policy or safety than run the risk of bad publicity. Retaliation is not limited to overt behavior, either, some employers will try to cultivate an atmosphere, or a company culture, that discourages reporting violations.
The whistleblower can be labeled as a"traitor" and punished with ostracization by co-workers. Many employees who continue working for their employer while in the middle of a whistleblowing case will find it difficult to maintain working relationships with their co-workers in such a climate.
Employee Retaliation and Intimidation
While such activity may be common, it is actually against the law to overtly or covertly discourage employees from reporting rulebreaking.
Workplace bullying, intimidation, and harassment share a lot in common. And it can be difficult to tell these behaviors apart.
Intimidation occurs when those in a position of power with the company leverage their position to coerce employees into doing or not doing something.
Coercion is a kind of harassment where the abuser may use a combination of threats and incentives to achieve the desired behavior.
It is also against the law to discourage employees from discussing wages with one another or to bar access to collective bargaining.
The equal employment opportunity commission interprets intimidation as harassment saying that it is illegal "when enduring such conduct becomes a condition of continued employment" or when the conduct is severe enough that a reasonable person would say it creates a hostile or abusive work environment.
Whistleblowers, when they are not terminated in retaliation, often face more or less subtle pressures to conform to the employer's wishes.
If it is revealed that a whistleblower has filed complaints with the authorities, then supervisors will reassign the whistleblower to a less desirable position, or make sudden changes to the employees work schedule in an attempt to bully and punish them.
Effects of Retaliation
Sometimes these penalties can be very subtle, other times they are blatant. Common forms of retaliation can include:
Taking away employee privileges
Demoting an employee from his or her current position
Giving an employee the worst or hardest duties
Changing an employee's schedule to be less accommodating of his or her needs
Firing an employee for reasons associated with the complaint
In California, if you file a formal complaint against your employer and are punished for it, then you have a retaliation claim. You do not need to prove that the original complaint was true, just that you believed it to be true and were punished for speaking out.
Our lawyers will evaluate your situation and help you stop this abuse. If you have a claim against a current or former employer, then we can help you recover lost wages and seek damages for your pain and suffering.
There's no need to feel like a victim, contact us today to schedule your free consulation.