Whistleblowers fired or disciplined by their employers need only show that their report of corporate wrongdoing contributed to the adverse employment action—and was not necessarily a retaliatory act by their bosses—to pursue a lawsuit under federal law, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled Thursday. 

Once the adversely treated worker makes the contributing-factor showing, the burden shifts to the former employer to show “by clear and convincing evidence” that the worker would have been fired or disciplined regardless of the statutorily protected whistleblowing, the high court added.