“Is there a law that prevents my employer from firing me for coming forward and submitting a complaint against my manager?”

Question: Hello. I was wondering: I am having a lot of problems with my manager at work. I have been documenting problems with him for the past 3 years. I have been working for him about 5 years now.

The company says that they have an “open door” policy and that anyone who comes forward will be protected. My question is this: is there a law that prevents my company from firing me for coming forward and submitting a complaint? THANKS.

Oscoda, Michigan

Answer: There are two parts to the answer you seek. Both “parts” get a “yes” answer.

First, if the problems you are having with your manager have anything to do with such things as discrimination, harassment, violation of workplace health and safety, payment of overtime, or any other topic covered by federal (and most state) work-related laws, chances are quite high that retaliation against you for reporting it, or filing a complaint about it, would be a serious violation of federal (and probably state) law.

This is because most laws prohibiting specific employer conduct – as one example, age discrimination – also provide that it is even more illegal to retaliate against someone who has lodged a complaint about that conduct – so long as the complaint is made in good faith.

Second, in many states – and my research suggests that includes Michigan – the law says that, if a company espouses a policy of “we do not permit retaliation for reporting misconduct” – and then the company permits retaliation for reporting misconduct, that constitutes a breach of contract between the employer and the employee. Your company’s “open door” policy, especially if it is written in a Policy Book or Employee Handbook, would likely suffice.

So, the key to answering your question is this: is the conduct about which you complained a federally-prohibited activity (noted above), or is it just plain old wrong and/or a violation of a company policy. Either way, you should have legal rights against retaliation “on your side.”

We have articles and Q & A’s in our Resource Center for further info on the topic. To view them [click here.]

Hope you don’t suffer the retaliation you seem to think is coming.

Best, Al Sklover

© 2010 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.