With yet another development in the VA whistleblower case, it seems that their fight is far from over.
VA whistleblower, Brandon Coleman, reported to USA Today that the VA continues to retaliate against him and other whistleblowers. Recently, they isolated him from meetings, discontinued his program to support whistleblowers and required him and other employees to resubmit their resumes for consideration.
When retaliation is as subtle as what Coleman endured at the VA, it can be difficult for whistleblowers to recognize it at all. That is why it is critical that we take another close look at some of the most common forms of retaliation that whistleblowers experience.
How do you know if you experienced retaliation?
Of course, firing or demoting a whistleblower are clear examples of retaliation. However, employers often take other more subtle routes to retaliate against employees, such as:
- Threats: This form of retaliation is not exactly subtle. However, employers will often threaten a whistleblower to keep them silent about both their report and the threats themselves. They might harass the whistleblower or their family members to prevent them from taking a whistleblower investigation even further.
- Denials: Employers often deny a whistleblower certain benefits they deserve to try and punish them. This could include cutting off overtime pay or even refusing to give the employee vacation time.
- Discipline: Employers will often discipline whistleblowers for no reason. Most of the time, small mistakes might lead to considerable consequences that do not match the issue.
- Blacklisting: Employers spread rumors outside the company to prevent the whistleblower from finding other employment. Recognizing blacklisting can be difficult. But if a potential employer suddenly loses interest, that could be a warning sign of blacklisting.
And this always bears repeating: whistleblowers should keep a record of any action they think could be retaliation.
Whistleblowers must report retaliation
Many whistleblowers in New York might hope that retaliation will stop. Or they decide to leave their job to make the retaliation end. But retaliation is against the law. So, it is essential to report these illegal actions.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that different whistleblower laws require individuals to report retaliation at varying times. Some laws only give whistleblowers 30 days to report it, while others extend that deadline to 180 days.
That is why whistleblowers cannot stand idly by when it comes to retaliation. They need to remember the rights and protections they have, so they can take action to put a stop to retaliation.