Railroad workers sometimes find themselves in a difficult situation where they know their employer has done something unsafe or illegal. Improper billing practices, working with uncertified professionals and using substandard materials are all examples of scenarios where a railroad employee may feel like they absolutely need to speak up about workplace issues.
Whistleblowers theoretically have federal protection against retaliation, and many people recognize that their employer shouldn’t just fire them when they report some kind of misconduct. However, retaliation involves more than just losing your job right away. Other forms of retaliation may be more subtle but can also do damage to your career.
Your schedule or position changes
You have been on a first-shift schedule for years. If your employer suddenly starts demanding that you work overnight after you report an issue, that could be a form of retaliation. So could transferring you to a different facility or moving you into a position with less upward mobility.
Retaliation often looks like changes to your job that are unfavorable after you report issues to management or an outside regulatory agency.
Increased employer scrutiny
Has your manager started to take issue with every tiny mistake that you make? Do they write you up for issues that don’t seem to matter for anyone else?
Employers often have a very different attitude toward staff members who have reported some kind of misconduct and cause regulatory headaches for the organization. When you feel like you face unwarranted scrutiny on the job following your whistleblowing, that could be a sign of retaliation.
A hostile work environment
Your decision to speak up in theory protects the company from major losses in the future and could even keep your coworkers in stable jobs. However, people in management or human resources may try to make your time at work uncomfortable by sharing information with your coworkers that should have remained private.
If people believe that you have caused problems for the company, it could have a chilling effect on your work relationships and make every shift very stressful. Instead of taking direct punitive action against you, the company will make your daily work experience so miserable that you may just leave voluntarily.
If you recognize the warning signs of retaliation or if you believe you are very likely to face such misconduct from your employer after reporting an issue in accordance with your sense of personal ethics, then you may want to take proactive steps to protect yourself and your future career stability. Learning more about whistleblower retaliation may help you feel more confident if you do speak up about something happening at your place of employment.