Although Wisconsin provides multiple ways for employees to respond if they believe that they are being discriminated against or retaliated against by their employers in connection with whistleblower activity, there is no single overarching whistleblower statute in this state to cover all circumstances. Instead, Wisconsin law with regard to whistleblower protections is more like a patchwork quilt of multiple statutes that cover specific situations, coupled with certain common-law protections as well as protections under federal law.
Common-law protections. Although not directly connected with whistleblower protection, several Wisconsin court cases have created a cause of action for wrongful termination if an employee is subject to retaliation by an employer. These situations can arise if the employer discriminates against an employee for taking advantage of rights and entitlements (for example, retaliating against an employee for making a workers’ compensation benefits claim) or for failing to take steps that violate public policy (such as firing an employee who declines to commit perjury on behalf of the employer and the legal proceeding).
Statutory protections. As mentioned above, there is no unifying whistleblower protection statute in Wisconsin. Instead, state law creates multiple statutory circumstances to protect whistleblower employees from retaliation. These specific situations include:
- Government employees
- Healthcare employees
- Employees involved in elder care
- Migrant workers
- Employees involved with toxic substance situations
- Employees making workers’ compensation claims
If you lose your job or otherwise experience which you believe is discriminatory or retaliatory behavior on the part of your employer based on your calling attention to illegal, unethical, fraudulent, or other problems at work, you may have a claim to whistleblower protection status. To determine if this is so, a law firm with attorneys experienced in employment law can help you to determine if your circumstances are other than a typical at will employment situation and whether any, marked or statutory protection may apply to you.