As an employee, there may be times when you must act in accordance with your own conscience and against the interests of your employer. While employers retain the right to address any concerns they have with their employees’ job performances, there are a number of activities that enjoy government protection from employer retaliation.
If, for instance, you are an employee of a company that is under investigation or being sued, you may be asked to testify about some event or function of your job. While an employer may prefer that you not participate, they can’t fire you in retaliation for complying. Thus, if you’re asked to give information about your employer to investigators looking into accounting violations, for example, you can do so with impunity.
Similarly, if you become aware of actions within the company that are not lawful, or even potentially unlawful —if you are unsure of the legal specifics of the issue — you can report this to an agency like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Your employer cannot fire you for doing so, and may face stiff penalties if they terminate you anyway.
These are only broad generalizations. In reality, you may face a much more nuanced conflict, and it may not be obvious what corrective action you should take (if any).
In such cases, it’s wise to consult with an experienced employment law attorney who can assess and evaluate the details of your situation and create a strategy for following your conscience while protecting your future. This might be necessary because even though these activities are legally protected, your employer may still attempt a retaliatory action.
Source: Findlaw, “Retaliation and Wrongful Termination,” accessed Sep. 08, 2017