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Thinking of Blowing the Whistle on Your Employer? Know Your Rights!

Discovering your employer’s wrongdoing can be a tough position in which to find yourself. As much as you might want to protect your employer, you may feel that you have a moral obligation to report wrongdoing. On the other hand, if you are disgruntled and feel you have been mistreated as an employee, you might be eager to blow the whistle, but you should first consider the consequences.

What do you need to do before you risk playing the role of whistleblower in the workplace?

Whistleblowers serve an important role in corporate America by shedding light on unethical and potentially illegal acts. There are even federal and state laws in place to protect whistleblowers from retaliation if they come forward with useful information. To learn more about the legal protections provided to whistleblowers, check out OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program.

Unfortunately, the protection promised is not always enough, and in some cases, whistleblowers put more at risk personally by speaking out. Research indicates that the majority of whistleblowers do suffer harassment after making allegations against their employer, even if those allegations are warranted. More than half of people report losing their jobs after speaking out against their companies, and some even experienced problems finding employment in the future.

You have a right to take action when you know a company is breaking the law or acting unethically, and you have a right to take legal action if you suffer retaliation, but that can be of little comfort if your life is in disarray and your livelihood suffers.

What Can You Do?

In most cases, you have a few options when you learn of wrongdoing within your company. You can report it via the internal mechanisms set up to deal with this type of behavior. You can contact the media, if you believe the company’s actions warrant media attention. Or you can report wrongdoing to a regulatory agency.

Keep in mind there are risks involved in all three cases. Revealing that you are aware of wrongdoing within a company could backfire, especially if there are multiple people involved in the actions and you are the only employee willing to speak out. Chances are going to media won’t do much good either, unless you work for a high profile company or the information you have makes for a sensational news story.

Reporting to a regulatory industry is often the best option, but it can still create more harm than good for you in the long run. This is especially true if you are reporting the behavior of well-known and/or well-respected individuals in your field and you are lesser known.

Your Own Protection is Most Important

The best thing you can do if you determine there is unethical or illegal behavior occurring within your company is to speak to an attorney familiar with whistleblowing. Protecting yourself must be your number one priority, even when you are acting in good faith and your goal is to help the community. An attorney can advise you of the best steps to take in your position and he or she can determine if you are being mistreated as a result of your actions.

If you would like to know more about the role of a whistleblower or you have become aware of information about your employer that causes you distress, we can help. We understand how stressful it is to take on the role of whistleblower and we can help you navigate the often confusing and intimidating waters of speaking out. Contact Borrelli & Associates, P.L.L.C. for more information.


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