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Whistleblowing retaliation is more than just getting fired

Even though Texas is a work-at-will state, retaliation for whistleblowing is still against the law, and wrongfully terminated employees can fight back.

What is whistleblowing?

In legal terms, a whistleblower is someone who exposes the fraudulent, illegal, unsafe, or morally reprehensible shenanigans of a company, organization, or government. The word dates back to the 1800s when officers used whistles to alert people of danger.

Since federal lawmakers passed the U.S. Whistleblower Protection Act in 1989, there have been dozens of high-profile cases involving corporate giants — like Enron and Worldcom — in addition to government and military departments.

What is retaliation for whistleblowing?

Whistleblowing retaliation is when one party in a position of power, typically an employer, punishes an underling, usually an employee, for speaking up about corporate or organizational malfeasance. The relationship isn’t always between workers and employers, though. Incidents can occur in myriad situations, including sporting clubs, school groups, and membership associations.

Examples of retaliation for whistleblowing

The most common type of whistleblowing retaliation is wrongful termination. Or, to state it more plainly, getting fired. However, other examples of retaliation for whistleblowing include:

  • Demotion
  • Denial of overtime or hazard pay
  • Discrimination
  • Harassment
  • Denial of benefits, promotions or bonuses
  • Subjection to an unsafe working environment
  • Workplace sanctions

Reprisal doesn’t need to be overt to be illegal. In truth, most whistleblowing retaliation is veiled as unrelated happenstance. If you’re unsure whether your circumstances amount to an unlawful act, talk with an employment law attorney about whistleblower claims.

Employment law is nuanced. So if you feel you’re a victim of whistleblowing retaliation and want to fight back, speak with an attorney versed in the practice area. They’ll be able to assess the situation and layout available options.