Retaliation and Whistleblower Protections
Retaliation is simply an employer’s decision to punish an employee for engaging in behavior protected by law, but which the employer dislikes. Retaliation is a very common form of discrimination because it results from an employee complaining about violations of the law that trigger the duty of an employer to investigate or remedy those violations. It is very important for an employee who decides to challenge illegal behavior to seek legal counsel prior to doing so, or in the event retaliation has already begun, seek counsel prior to the employer firing the employee who complained.
Employers may not retaliate against employees who make complaints of discrimination and/or harassment, either on behalf of themselves or other employees.
What if I have reported illegal activities or exercised my rights?
In addition, employers may not retaliate against employees who engage in an activity to which the employees have a right, or activities which employees are required to do by law (“whistleblowing”).
Examples of retaliation and wrongful termination causes may include:
- Filing a workers’ compensation claim or a claim for unemployment benefits
- Providing truthful testimony in court or in a deposition
- Reporting child or adult abuse as a mandatory reporter
- Reporting care center deficiencies to the Department of Inspections and Appeals
- Serving jury duty
- Reporting an employer to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
- Reporting safety violations to OSHA
- Complaining to the Department of Labor for an employer’s failure to pay minimum wage or overtime
- Complying with a subpoena
- Serving in the military, including National Guard duty
- Refusing to violate regulations from the Iowa Administrative Code
- Voting in an election
- Refusing to violate the law
The above list includes examples of retaliation and wrongful termination causes, and does not include all situations in which an employer may be responsible for preventing retaliation. Retaliation claims can result in a variety of damages including lost wages, emotional distress, punitive damages and attorney fees.
All information on our website is meant to be generally informative. To find out whether you may have a case, you should consult an employment or discrimination attorney of your choice.