If you’re an employee in Rhode Island who has witnessed wrongdoing in the workplace, you may be considering blowing the whistle. Doing so can be a scary prospect, but the Whistleblower Protection Act offers some protection to employees who come forward.
Understanding retaliation in the workplace
Retaliation is an action taken by an employer against an employee who has reported wrongdoing or participated in a protected activity, such as filing a worker’s compensation claim. It can include actions such as demotion, termination, suspension or harassment.
Laws prohibiting retaliation
The first law is the Whistleblower Protection Act. WPA prohibits employers from taking any action against a whistleblower that they would not take against an employee who hadn’t reported the wrongdoing. The law also provides whistleblowers with protection from employer retaliation in courtrooms and before administrative bodies.
Other laws that protect whistleblowers from employer retaliation include:
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
- The Rhode Island Healthy Workplace Act
- The Fair Labor Standards Act
- The Occupational Safety and Health Act
- The National Labor Relations Act
How to protect yourself
It is crucial to document any evidence you have of wrongdoing, as well as all instances of retaliation you experience. This could include emails, texts, recordings or other forms of communication between yourself and your employer. Also, it helps to have copies of any complaints you might have filed regarding the matter.
With that evidence, you can file a complaint through various means available to you. For instance, if you want to file your case with OSHA, the government agency responsible for enforcing whistleblower laws, you can do so by filling out a form on their website. You can also file a lawsuit against your employer in civil court.
At the end of the day, it’s important for employees who witness wrongdoing in the workplace to know that they have protection under whistleblower laws. Don’t let fear stop you from coming forward if you believe something illegal is happening — understanding these legal protections can help bolster your confidence and ensure that you receive compensation if retaliation does occur.