For the average reader who has never had a serious ethical concern about their employer’s activities, it probably seems clear-cut that it is right to report something that is unethical or illegal. However, when faced with a real-life decision the issues can become fuzzier as employees try to balance doing what they think is right with keeping their jobs, providing for their families, and maintaining a good reputation.
People who work in the fast food industry along with others who work in jobs where they earn the federal minimum wage are planning a rally this week. Organizers said that picketers will be outside many popular fast food chains during the lunch hour to speak out about low wages and retaliation by their employers.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission launched a lawsuit against a company in Maryland yesterday. It is accusing the Baltimore-based mechanical heating, ventilation and air conditioning company, Fidelity Engineering, of disability discrimination and retaliation.
When employees report the illegal or fraudulent activities of their employers, they are protected by law from being retaliated against at work. This generally means that the employee, the whistle-blower, cannot be fired or subjected to a discriminatory or hostile work environment due to the complaint. However, whistle-blowers are often retaliated against and in these cases they can seek legal recourse, including compensation for their losses as well as job reinstatement.
In Maryland, the D.C. area and throughout the U.S., employers may not fire workers in retaliation for taking advantage of state or federal laws, or for protecting their rights in the workplace. This means an employer cannot fire an employee who is cooperating with an investigation by licensed authorities or one who supports a co-worker's sexual harassment complaint or has reported illegal practices of the company.