Examples and Consequences of
Retaliation, Along with Protections
Available to a Whistleblower
The Value of a Whistleblower
Whistleblowers play a crucial role in our country. They point out fraud, abuse
and waste that costs taxpayers billions of dollars. They report wrongdoing by
fraudulent healthcare providers, defense contractors, employers and other
individuals or companies that take advantage of the system. Whistleblowers are
often employees of the fraudulent companies, and they come forward with
important information about wrongdoing they’ve witnessed despite the looming
threat of retaliation.
What is Retaliation?
Retaliation is an action or actions taken by an employer as a response to
whistleblowing. Even if an employee reports wrongdoing internally and not to the
authorities, retaliation can still occur. Most whistleblowers are given protection,
by law, against retaliation from employers, though it is still a major concern for
whistleblowers. After all, an employer willing to commit fraud might also be
willing to retaliate against employees. Retaliation comes in many different forms.
Let’s look at some of the most common...
Being Fired from Your Job
• One of the most common and obvious forms of retaliation is the firing of an
employee. Once the employee has reported fraud, abuse or waste, either
internally or to the authorities, employees are prohibited by law from firing a
worker for reporting the wrongdoing.
• Example: An employee grows concerned after coming across discrepancies
in his company’s accounting practices. He first reports the issue to his
employers and, then, after his report falls on deaf ears, he takes his claim to
the authorities. Only a few weeks later, he is fired by his employer.
Having Your Hours Cut
• Reducing an employee’s time at work is another form of retaliation. A worker
may be shifted to a part-time position as opposed to full time or have their
hours increasingly reduced, impacting their pay or other benefits.
• Example: After discovering fraudulent billing practices at a large defense
contractor, an employee files a whistleblower claim through the False Claims
Act. She soon finds that her employer has reduced her workload, which
affects her pay and her influence at work.
A Demotion, Wage Cut or Denial of Benefits
• Retaliating employers might find other ways to respond to an employee who
has spoken out about fraud. Demoting an employee, cutting their wages or
denying benefits are tactics used by employers to make a position less
desirable for a worker, possibly with the intention of pushing them out of a
• Example: A nurse who works at a medical facility notices a pattern of
overbilling of Medicare patients. Knowing that this is a common form of
healthcare fraud, she reports the problem to her boss, and is soon thereafter
given fewer responsibilities, fewer hours and less pay.
Intimidation from Employers
• Employers may retaliate against whistleblowers through hostility or
discrimination. The possibility for promotions could become nonexistent. An
employee could be “frozen out” of meetings, dialogue or discussions within
• Example: An investment banker has noticed that some of the senior members
of his company are involved in illegal activities that violate financial rules and
regulations. After coming forward about the activity, he is noticeably treated
differently by his bosses and coworkers. He is no longer invited to important
meetings and becomes the subject of scorn at work.
Understanding “Protected Activity”
Whistleblower laws vary somewhat from one sector or governing statute to
another, though employees who speak out are generally given some protection
from retaliation for certain actions. Reporting wrongdoing internally, speaking to
the press and refusing to do something illegal are usually protected by law.
However, it is not uncommon for employers to retaliate against employees, even
though it is illegal.
Fear of Retaliation Undermines the System
There are good reasons why the government offers protection for whistleblowers. First,
whistleblowers provide a much-needed service that reduces the occurrence of fraud,
abuse and waste. Encouraging them to speak up is a central part of the government’s
efforts to reduce corruption. Second, protections are given because they are needed. In
other words, employers have proven they are prone to retaliate if there are no legal
consequences for doing so.
Proving Retaliation for Whistleblowing
To prove retaliation, a whistleblower will need to demonstrate that they engaged
in a protected activity, that an employer knew about it, and that the employer’s
knowledge of the protected activity prompted retaliation. While an employee
might find it difficult to fulfill all of these requirements, whistleblower attorneys
often have the experience and knowledge needed to identify and prove
retaliation by employers.
What to do if You’re a Victim of Retaliation
Finding an experienced whistleblower attorney is a vital part of filing a claim, and
it is also crucial in finding protection from retaliation. You should keep extensive
records and notes regarding your correspondence with employers and your
whistleblowing actions. Having a documented timeline that shows the
relationship between your actions and the subsequent actions of your employer
can be key to demonstrating retaliation.
Contact Bert Louthian
If you are interested in filing a whistleblower claim or learning more about your
options after retaliation, contact whistleblower attorney Bert Louthian. He has
extensive experience in filing claims through the False Claims Act, including
helping clients that have been victims of employer retaliation. Contact Bert
Louthian today to learn more.