Retaliation generally is the act of seeking revenge upon another. Various federal and state laws, which vary by state, protect certain persons who seek to assert their legal rights from retaliation. For example, there is protection for whistleblowers under federal acts and related statutes that shield employees from retaliation for reporting illegal acts of employers. An employer is prohibited from any type of retaliation, such as, discharging, demoting, suspending or harassing the whistle blower.
Typically, to be entitled to whistle blower protection, an employee must report an employer's alleged illegal act to the proper authority, such as a government or law-enforcement agency, rather than merely reporting within the company. However, the employee might be protected from retaliation by public policy or other laws. For example, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects an employee against retaliation for reporting sexual harassment to the human resources department.