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What are whistleblower protections?



Question: What are whistleblower protections?


Answer from Laura, MA, SHRM-CP: Whistleblowing occurs when an employee reports wrongdoing (dangerous, illegal, or unethical activity or practices by the company or its employees) either directly to the employer or to an outside authority. Many laws, including the Occupational Safety and Health Act, consider whistleblowing a protected activity, meaning you can’t lawfully retaliate against an employee for making such a report. If you were to retaliate, for instance, by disciplining the employee or excluding them from promotional opportunities, the employee could file a complaint.


You can reduce the risk of employees “blowing the whistle” to an outside agency or authority by establishing clear internal channels for employees to report issues, addressing these reports promptly and fairly, and having zero tolerance for retaliation. Employees should feel safe bringing concerns to your attention and be able to trust that you’ll respond appropriately. If they fear that they’ll be punished for raising issues or concerns internally, they may opt instead to report the matter externally.


This Q&A does not constitute legal advice and does not address state or local law


Laura has 9 years of HR experience, spanning public- and private-sector work in the education, transit, and insurance industries. After completing a B.A. in Asian Studies from Knox College, she received her M.A. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from University of New Haven along with graduate-level certificates in Human Resources Management and Psychology of Conflict Management. Laura enjoys fencing, baking, and cross-stitching.


Legal Disclaimer: On-Time Payroll is not engaged in the practice of law. The content in this email should not be construed as legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you have legal questions concerning your situation or the information you have obtained, you should consult with a licensed attorney. OTP cannot be held legally accountable for actions related to its receipt.

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