Silenced About COVID-19 in the Workplace

New national survey shows that retaliation against whistleblowers in the workplace is prevalent during the pandemic. Black workers are more likely to work under conditions that are both hazardous and repressive.



In recent months, media reports have drawn attention to retaliation against whistleblowers and workers across U.S. industries for raising health and safety concerns in the workplace.[i] Unfortunately, these are not isolated incidents, according to the results of our new nationwide survey fielded in May. Key findings include the following:

  • One in eight workers has perceived possible retaliatory actions by employers against workers in their company who have raised health and safety concerns during the pandemic.
  • Black workers are more than twice as likely as white workers to have seen possible retaliation by their employer.
  • Black workers are also twice as likely as white workers to indicate having unresolved COVID-related concerns at work.

Our results suggest that virus transmission in the workplace may be exacerbated by employer repression and that the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black communities may be related to greater exposure of Black workers to repressive workplace environments. These findings are especially important now, as more businesses reopen and the dangerous implications of penalizing workers for raising health and safety concerns will only grow.

See survey results here.

Download the brief to read more. 


[i] See Puget Sound Naval Shipyard Worker Fired After Raising Covid-19 Concerns, Kitsap Sun, April 4, 2020; Amazon Vice President Quits in Protest Over Company’s Alleged Firings of Coronavirus ‘Whistleblowers’, Time, May 4, 2020; Health Care Workers Are Being Fired for Speaking Out About a Lack of Supplies, The Nation, April 15, 2020; and Employees Say They Were Fired for Quarantining Themselves During Coronavirus Pandemic, ABC Local 24, April 20, 2020.

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About the Authors

Laura Padin

Areas of expertise:
  • Enforcement of Workplace Standards,
  • Nonstandard Workforce

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