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What to Do if your Employer Asks You to Break the Law

What to Do if your Employer Asks You to Break the Law

Many employees would understandably assume that anything requested by their employer must be legal – i.e., that they have presumably run all decisions, paperwork requirements, etc., by an HR department or attorney. However, you might be shocked to learn how frequently employers may not only be out of compliance with respect to their own practices but may even intentionally or unintentionally ask their own employees to break the law.

This can occur in a number of circumstances: Truck drivers asked to continue to drive through the night and bypass federal break requirements; Hourly employees who work in excess of 40 hours that week who are asked to instead document those extra hours as meal breaks; Employers who force supervisors to engage in discrimination in their or commit a breach of contract hiring, firing, or payment practices; etc.

However, it is also possible that, while you may suspect that your employer is asking you to break the law, they may also not be. Regardless, if you have concerns, the best course of action is always to consult an experienced employment law attorney to help figure out what makes sense in terms of the next steps. These next steps do not always involve bringing a lawsuit – in fact, attorneys can simply help provide you with guidance.

Protection From Retaliation if You Refuse

It is important to note that, should your employer threaten to retaliate if you refuse to break the law at their request, you have some legal remedies available to you:

  • The U.S. Equal Employment prohibits punishing employees for asserting their rights, a protected activity
  • If you are fired for refusing to break the law, you have the right to file a wrongful termination claim
  • In addition, under some federal laws, you may have the ability to bring a private civil action against the employer

In addition, should you report your employer for asking you to break the law, you are also protected under whistleblower protections. Illegal actions covered under Ohio’s whistleblower laws include an employer:

  • Asking questions about a report made by the employee
  • Attempting to verify the accuracy of any information provided by the employee
  • Transferring or reassigning the employee
  • Withholding promotions, benefits, or raises
  • Reducing pay
  • Demoting the employee
  • Suspending or terminating the employee

The law provides employees with the ability to file civil lawsuits against their employers within 180 days of retaliatory action. If successful, your employer could also have to cover attorney’s fees and other fees associated with bringing the claim.

Columbus, Ohio Discrimination, Employment, and Wrongful Termination Attorneys

It is crucial to note that even if an employer asks you to break the law, you can be held accountable, as an individual, for these actions in court. You should never be put in this situation. Know that there are attorneys on your side – even if you only have questions as to whether or not something is or is not legal in a workplace setting. Contact our Columbus, Ohio, employment law attorneys today to discuss.

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