Columbus Whistleblower Retaliation Retaliation Lawyer

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When an employer is participating in illegal activities or violating worker rights, employees have the right to “blow the whistle” on the company by alerting the proper authorities. Unfortunately, when some employers become aware that an employee made a complaint, they take retaliatory action against the whistleblower through termination, demotion, or transfer. Both federal and state law protect whistleblowers from retaliation, so if you were punished for making a complaint against your employer, it is critical to contact an experienced employment attorney who can help protect your rights.

State Law Protections

Ohio’s whistleblower laws protect employees of both public and private companies from being retaliated against by their employers for reporting legitimate violations. However, to fall under the law’s protection, an employee must reasonably believe that the employer’s conduct:

Constitutes a felony offense; or

Is likely to cause an imminent risk of physical harm to others or a hazard to the safety or health of the public.

Employees are also required to first orally notify their supervisor of the concern and then file a written report including details of the violation. If, after 24 hours, the employer has not made an effort to correct the problem, the employee can file a claim with the appropriate public agency, peace officer, inspector general, or public official. Employees who comply with the requirements of this process are protected from certain adverse actions taken by their employers, including:

  • Termination or suspension;
  • Demotion;
  • Withholding a salary increase or employee benefit;
  • Reassignment or transfer;
  • Denial of a promotion that an employee otherwise would have received; and
  • A pay reduction.

Ohio’s civil rights laws also protect employees who have been discriminated against based on race, sex, or another protected category from being fired, harassed, or demoted for reporting it. Other state laws protect employees from being punished for:

  • Reporting the abuse or neglect of a health care facility resident;
  • Notifying authorities of an overtime violation;
  • Reporting a misuse of public funds (if a government employee);
  • Reporting wage discrimination; or
  • Reporting a workplace safety issue.

Federal Law

Under federal law, employees are entitled to safe workplaces, overtime pay, and freedom from discrimination based on race, gender, and other protected categories. Employees also have the right to report wage and hour violations, workplace discrimination, and safety violations.  As a result, employers who fire a whistleblower or take any of the following retaliatory actions can be required to pay damages:

  • Blacklisting;
  • Discipline;
  • Intimidation or harassment;
  • Denying overtime or promotions;
  • Reducing hours or pay;
  • Making threats;
  • Denying benefits; and
  • Failing to hire or rehire.

Employees who are the victims of this type of retaliation can file a civil claim against their employers and seek specific remedies, including:

  • Reinstatement or front pay if reinstatement is impossible;
  • Back pay;
  • Interest on any back pay if the retaliation was especially egregious;
  • Receipt of unpaid benefits; and
  • Reimbursement for court and attorney’s fees.

Contact a Columbus Employment Attorney Today

To speak to an experienced employment attorney, please contact Marshall Forman & Schlein, LLC by calling (614) 463-9790, sending an email to, or completing one of our brief contact forms.