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Is whistleblowing protected by law?

On Behalf of | Aug 17, 2019 | Whistleblowing |

Companies and businesses must never retaliate against employees who acted as whistleblowers. Even if a person’s complaints feel untrue and a business is eager to set the record straight, there are very specific protections for whistleblowing. Wisconsin whistleblowers who were wrongfully fired or otherwise retaliated against may choose to bring lawsuits against their employers, both current and former.

While the term might seem to pop up in certain news reports — at least somewhat frequently, not many people fully understand the definition of a whistleblower. Broadly speaking, the term applies to workers who make complaints regarding employer misconduct, including safety code violations, financial mismanagement, shareholder fraud and more. A whistleblower only has to make internal complaints to be labeled as such, although some choose to provide information to outside investigators as well.

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 prevents employers from retaliating against workers who raise such concerns. Even if a whistleblower’s complaints do not lead to any convictions for wrongdoing, the employee is still protected from unwarranted demotions, pay cuts and other retaliatory behavior. These protections apply to both workers who only complained internally and those who took things to a Wisconsin state agency or even higher.

It takes an enormous amount of courage to report wrongdoings, particularly if the accusations involve an employer. Workers who do so risk retaliation that could affect their current and future employment and earning opportunities. However, this does not mean that whistleblowing is not a worthwhile endeavor. Those who do suffer retaliation as a result may choose to pursue legal action to recover related damages, including lost wages and more.