Wrongdoing in the workplace should be pointed out. When it isn’t, innocent workers and consumers can be unfairly taken advantage of. Although most workers feel an ethical obligation to report wrongdoing, they often fear retaliation. This concern can leave them in an uncomfortable position. After all, they want to do the right thing, but they also don’t want to lose their job.
Fortunately, workers who report wrongdoing in the workplace have protections for whistleblowers. Under Illinois’ Whistleblower Act, employers cannot create policies or rules that prohibit employees from reporting information to the government or law enforcement, so long as that employee has reasonable cause to believe that the information disclosed constitutes violation of a state or federal law or regulation.
Even absent these policies, employers are prohibited by the Whistleblower Act from retaliating against employees who report or testify regarding violations of state or federal laws or regulations. Similarly, an employee cannot be retaliated against for refusing to participate in an activity that would constitute one of these violations. Even the mere threat of retaliation is illegal under the law.
Far too often, Illinois workers are put in the difficult position of having to report on activities that they feel are against the law. Although they may fear retaliation, they should take comfort knowing that they are protected under the law. Those who are retaliated against can take legal action against their employer to seek compensatory damages for back pay, litigation costs and even attorney’s fees. Additionally, they can seek reinstatement to the position they had prior to the retaliation. Of course, these types of lawsuits are oftentimes hotly contested, which is why workers who believe they have been wronged in the workplace should consider seeking out legal counsel.