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Whistleblowers are protected from workplace discrimination

On Behalf of | Nov 11, 2021 | Employment Law

Criminal activities go on everyday in Rhode Island. Some crimes are obvious, like when a person robs a store or commits an act of violence against another person. Other crimes are harder to spot because they involve discreet activities that happen behind the closed doors of a workplace.

What is a whistleblower?

There are many different types of illegal activities that could potentially take place within a business. Funds could be misappropriated, vital information could be hidden or pollution could be allowed to go on unchecked. When a worker with knowledge of illegal activities alerts the authorities about what they know, this worker is called a whistleblower.

Whistleblower protections

Federal and state whistleblower protections were set up so that workers can bring attention to illegal activities without fearing that they will lose their jobs for doing so. Whistleblowers are protected from workplace discrimination even if their accusations end up being false.

People who report suspected illegal activities at their workplace or participate in investigations of suspected illegal activities at their workplace are considered whistleblowers. If a worker doesn’t go to the police but only alerts their supervisor, this worker is also considered a whistleblower. Whistleblower protections also extend to workers that have refused to follow orders from their employers because the orders violate the law.

Whistleblower discrimination

An employer can be sued for discriminating against a whistleblower if they fire or demote the employee for their lawful actions. Threatening to fire an employee or otherwise mistreating them for whistleblowing is also considered discrimination. If a worker was fired or discriminated against for refusing to violate federal, state or local laws, the worker can sue their employer for whistleblower discrimination.