While employees in Minnesota and in states across the nation may not notice any changes in the work environment day in and day out, when certain events occur, employees should be aware of their rights and what actions they could take. Whether it is health and safety issues, a work related injury, a violation of a state or federal statute or discrimination in the workplace, employees should understand their rights as provided by whistleblower protection.
The whistleblower protection act affords employees the right to report issues regarding the health and safety of the work environment and work activities going on in the workplace. Moreover, if an employee is injured or discriminated against and they file a claim or complaint regarding this event, an employee has a right to report these incidents without the fear of being retaliated against.
In cases of employer retaliations, such as firing, laying off, demoting, denial of benefits, reducing hours or pay or other similar acts, whistleblower rights protect the employee from these acts. If these events do occur, the employee has the right to file a claim. This civil action could lead to punitive damages in order to punish the employer for their acts. In addition, the employee may receive compensatory damages for the damages and losses they incurred in the situation, such as lost wages.
A hostile work environment is not only caused by employer retaliation, but also acts of discrimination. No matter the situation and whether an employee is sure that the acts taking place in the workplace are illegal, it is important to speak out about them, even if they are speculative.
Source: Whistleblowers.gov, "The Whistleblower Protection Programs," accessed on Nov. 24, 2014