Defending Whistleblowers Against Wrongful Termination

Was your termination retaliation? If you helped put an end to toxic (or downright dangerous) workplace practices, you shouldn’t feel targeted – and you certainly shouldn’t be fired for doing the right thing. Below, our friends at Cohen & Cohen explore the ways a lawyer can help you with your wrongful termination.

What Does It Mean To Be A Whistleblower?

Many employees keep their heads down to keep collecting a paycheck, even if there’s something less-than-legal going on behind closed doors. But a few are brave enough to stand up for what’s right. These employees who are willing to risk retaliation and harassment to put an end to problematic, illegal, or unethical practices are whistleblowers, and they’re afforded certain protections in the event of a wrongful termination.

What Counts As Wrongful Termination?

Getting fired is an unpleasant experience, and depending on your work history, losing your job can feel unfair and undeserved, especially if you were just trying to do the right thing. Unfortunately, not every firing is considered “wrongful” from a legal perspective. Depending on the state, employment is often “at will”, which means employers and employees both have the right to end their contracts whenever they’d like. Although employment is often “at will”, wrongful termination can still occur when the firing breaches exceptions to “at-will” employment, like protected activities or characteristics.

Examples Of Wrongful Termination

Wrongful termination takes many forms, and one of the more common sources for wrongful termination complaints is discrimination. In the eyes of the law, you can’t be fired or denied any work opportunities due to inherent characteristics that are an integral part of your person. This means you can’t be fired on account of your age, gender, sexuality, or religion.

If you suspect you’ve experienced discrimination in the workplace, it’s important to gather evidence before building a case. And if you recognize discrimination in the workplace and try to put a stop to it, you shouldn’t have to suffer harassment, abuse, and even firing for taking a stand.

How Can A Toxic Workplace Affect My Case?

Unfortunately, being a whistleblower is often thankless. You make a change for the better (or at least try to), and end up stuck in a workplace full of coworkers or managers who may resent your actions. The threat of a toxic work environment shouldn’t prevent you from calling attention to illegal or unethical practices, and it certainly shouldn’t be used as a weapon to keep you depressed and demoralized after you stood up for what’s right.

A toxic work environment can include constant harassment, exclusion from certain activities, and downright bullying. Fortunately, this can also be used as evidence that you experienced retaliation.

What Should I Look For In A Whistleblower Lawyer?

Whether you’re just recovering from your firing or you suspect you’re experiencing retaliation, a whistleblower lawyeris a vital resource when facing a discrimination case. Unfortunately, not all lawyers are created equal. When you’re shopping for legal experience, you need to make sure your lawyer will be as committed to your case as you are, and you need to make sure they have plenty of experience with cases just like yours.Workplaces shouldn’t be toxic or dangerous, and employers must be held accountable for illegal activities. Whistleblowers are important, and while they often go unthanked, there’s no reason for them to be actively punished for trying to do the right thing. Note, whistleblower protections often pertain to specific types of disclosures, like violations of law or threats to public safety. Not all whistleblowing actions will necessarily receive the same protections. It’s important to know your rights and stay protected on the job by speaking with an experienced whistleblower lawyer.