Rhode Island employers are required to adhere to certain laws and regulations in the workplace. When they do not, it is often up to the employees to take action. Workers who report these violations are considered whistleblowers. Despite doing their best to protect themselves, other workers and sometimes even the public, whistleblowers are often subjected to retaliation.
Whistleblowers are protected
Whistleblowers who file complaints are protected under both state and federal law. It is important to note that the claim does not necessarily have to be true to trigger such protections — just that the person who made the complaint must have made it in good faith. This means that an employer cannot retaliate — or take unfavorable personnel actions — regardless of the validity of a complaint.
Is it retaliation?
A worker who does not receive a deserved promotion or who is let go from a job at which he or she excels is not necessarily the victim of retaliation. To be considered retaliation, a victim must be able to demonstrate that retaliation or ill intent related to a complaint was a factor in unfavorable personnel actions. Such actions include:
- Reduction of hours
- Denial of promotion
Whistleblowers are an important part of the Rhode Island workforce. These men and women shine a light on potentially dangerous or harmful violations, which ultimately protect many other people. When faced with retaliation, it is often necessary to hold employers responsible for their actions to prevent similar negative outcomes with future whistleblowers.