Protecting Citizen Employees from Employer Retaliation: a Comparative Analysis

Topics: Law, Employment, At-will employment Pages: 6 (2065 words) Published: April 21, 2013
Mr. Shekhar S. Gangadhar
MBA (Marketing & HRM)
Assistant Professor (SGI Atigre, Kolhapur)
Email id:
Mobile No. 9850000990


An employer’s demand for an employee’s loyalty, time, effort and pursuit of the employer’s choice of goals can pose a real dilemma for an employee if the employer’s demands conflict with the employee’s sense of duty to the public interest. Following an employer’s instructions, preserving its confidences, and facilitating its business practices might violate the law in some instances. Strict observance of the employer’s work schedule and production goals might make public service as a juror, witness, or voter impossible. Employer demands and public interests cannot always be reconciled, and an employee may have to choose one at the expense of the other. “Citizen Employees” are employees who choose public duty at some cost to their employer and who risk employer retaliation as a result.1 Citizen Employees are defined by their conduct. They question business practices that may involve wrongful activity, resist instructions to aid wrongful activity, complain to higher management or law enforcement authorities about illegal activity, or take time from work to serve the public despite the competing demands of their employment. This article is a very brief description of the need for and unique challenges of providing legal protection for citizen employees. Introduction

A citizen employee can provoke a wide range of hostile responses by his employer or fellow employees and managers, who might regard his conduct as insubordinate, disloyal, and even threatening. In this regard citizen employees resemble other special groups of employees defined by law according to their potentially provocative conduct, including employees who exercise personal rights under employment statutes or who support collective bargaining. 2 The defining conduct for each of these protected groups tends to provoke retaliation. Such employee conduct may be essential to achieve a public goal, such as the creation and enjoyment of certain employee rights. What sets citizen employees apart from other employee groups defined by their conduct is the object of citizen employee conduct, which is to further a public interest rather than individual or collective employee interests.3 Protecting a citizen employee from retaliation might seem relatively straightforward if the employee were already protected from discharge or other adverse action, as employees sometimes are under contract or certain employment law regimes.

In the U.S., however, most employees serve “at will.”4 Under the law of “employment at will,” an employer need not prove that its decision to discipline an employee was supported by a good or fair reason. An employer’s motivation to retaliate because an employee thwarted or reported wrongdoing or performed a public service might to be exactly the sort of motivation that should be prohibited. In fact, there are many federal and state statutes that prohibit employer retaliation against particular conduct that fits within the realm of citizen employee behavior, 5 and there are many court decisions that declare limited “common law” (non-statutory) protection for citizen employees. The Sarbanes Oxley Act6 (SOX) is certainly the best known of the many laws that apply to different categories of citizen employees. SOX prohibit employer retaliation against employees who report certain types of unlawful business activity within publicly traded corporations. But In India there is no any strong legal provision for the whistle blowers and this paper is an honest effort to throw a light on the protection of Citizen Employees from Employer Retaliation.

Case for whistle blowing law in India
6The term `whistle-blowing' is a relatively recent entry into the vocabulary of public and...
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