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Are Whistleblower Protections Adequate for Missouri Employees Reporting Wrongdoings?

Employment Law

What is Whistleblowing?

As an employee, you may notice unjust wrongdoings or issues present in your workplace. Many employees hesitate to report these wrongdoings for fear of retaliation of some sort. They may not realize that without them reporting these unlawful acts, employers may continue to engage in illegal activities for years to come. It takes courage to report wrongdoings, and you have protection should you choose to do so.

Typical forms of wrongdoing in the workplace can take on all categories. Some of the most common are listed below;

Bribery – some employers will bribe their employees with illegal things to help boost productivity, and their actions may be unlawful.

Insider trading – insider trading consists of trading on the stock market to someone’s benefit through the use of confidential information. Employees may know of significant changes in the business structure, allowing them to benefit significantly on the stock market by buying or selling stocks. This activity is generally illegal.

Human Rights Violations- protected on a federal level, human rights violations can include denying employment or promotions due to race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, and more. Violations can also include harassment based on the above, termination, demotions, and more.

Breaches of laws or crimes – breaches of laws can happen in a workplace, and without anyone reporting the issue, they may continue without punishment or correction.

A myriad of issues may present in a workplace worth reporting. Consult your experienced attorney immediately should you feel unjust occurrences are happening.

At-Will Employment

Missouri is an at-will employment state, meaning that an employer can fire an employee at any time for nearly any reason, as long as that reason isn’t illegal.

Whistleblowers tend to hesitate to report wrongdoings as they want to avoid being terminated due to bringing the issues to light. However, Missouri law protects against this by stating that refusing to perform an illegal act or reporting violations or wrongdoings is protected in the workplace.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, “the Whistleblower Protection Act was established to ensure that employees who engage in protected disclosure are free from fear of reprisal for their disclosures.”

State-Level Protection for Whistleblowing in Missouri

According to Missouri State law 191.908, “an employer shall not discharge, demote, suspend, threaten, harass, or otherwise discriminate against an employee in the terms and conditions of employment because the employee initiates, assists in, or participates in proceeding or court action…”

Whistleblowers are protected on the state level according to the above law and are additionally protected on federal levels. Though it can seem scary to want to report wrongdoings, an experienced attorney can protect your rights and enforce state and federal protections to ensure you are not treated unjustly should you report wrongdoings in the workplace.

Examples of Workplace Retaliation

The U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission gives examples of what retaliation may look like following a whistleblower’s actions. This list isn’t meant to be exhaustive, but it can help you determine if some of the examples below fit the ways in which you are being treated unjustly.

Depending on the circumstances, employers can be guilty of retaliation by things such as;

Threatening to make reports to authorities, such as contacting police or immigration status in an attempt to deter or punish the employee

Engaging in verbal or physical abuse as a result of whistleblowing

Transferring the employee to a less desirable position within the company or a less desirable position in the office, segregating them from the rest of the team

Reprimanding the employee in any way or giving them an inappropriately low-performance evaluation based on whistleblowing, potentially resulting in lower pay

Making the work environment more challenging or creating a hostile work environment, such as changing the employee’s schedule to directly interfere with family life or other obligations.

Employers or upper management spreading false rumors about the employee or being unjust to the employee’s family members, such as canceling once-honored contracts and more.

Damages May Be Available

If you feel that you are unjustly being retaliated against for whistleblowing, you may be entitled to damages.

Some of the damages you can generally expect to recover are any actual damages you received, such as physical injuries due to an altercation and needing medical attention. The necessary medical bills or costs may be recovered.

Back pay may be available if you were wrongfully terminated. The income you missed from the day you were fired may be awarded in damages.

Court fees, litigation costs, and even some or all of your attorney’s fees may be recovered as damages in a retaliation case.

Don’t Settle For Unjust Practices in the Workplace

Though it can seem scary and daunting to report wrongdoings you see in the workplace, there are several levels of protection in place for those who have the courage to stand up for what is right.

For over thirty years, we have been helping clients in Missouri with whistleblowing issues, workplace wrongdoing questions, discrimination, retaliation, and more. We are well-versed in these areas and can help set our clients’ minds at ease while they consider standing up for what is ultimately right.

We are compassionate and capable and are fierce and aggressive protectors for our clients when necessary.

Contact our office at (314) 528-9661 to learn more. We offer professional, experienced legal guidance on these imperative issues with confidentiality and compassion.

We look forward to serving you.

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