When Do You Become a Whistleblower?
Capitalist businesses frequently put profits ahead of everything else, including the law, the well-being of their employees, and the safety of the general public. Whether you have just started a new job and realized that something is fishy or you have recently learned that your employer isn’t complying with safety regulations, it is important to speak up when you know that there is something wrong.
The first and most obvious reason is that you could protect yourself or someone else from getting seriously hurt. You also reduce the possibility of yourself facing criminal consequences as an accessory to a broader conspiracy. You don’t even need to profit directly from illegal activity for the government to charge you because of your employer’s conduct.
What makes you a whistleblower with the full protection that comes from that role?
Whistleblowers Report Issues Internally or To the Government
There are two main ways that someone will become a whistleblower. The first involves making an internal report through human resources or management. This may be an option if only a few workers or a single department plays a role in the misconduct.
Advising the company of safety issues and legal non-compliance can give the management team an opportunity to correct those problems and improve the business’s practices. However, workers who report misconduct internally may face retaliation. They may also realize that their employer has ignored their reports.
Whether you fear retaliation or have made internal complaints to no avail, you can also invoke whistleblower protections when you make a formal report to a regulatory agency about safety infractions or legal non-compliance. In either scenario, you will have legal protection from retaliation by your employer. They should not fire you, demote you, or otherwise punish you for pointing out company misconduct.
Whistleblowers Often Have to Plan Their Steps Carefully
If you want to protect your job while simultaneously pushing your employer to do right by its workers or the general public, you may need support. Learning more about how whistleblower protections work and how to document different kinds of infractions can help you build a case and protect yourself at the same time.
Especially if you need to cooperate with a federal investigation or regulatory agency, having someone representing your best legal interests may protect you from mistakes that could lead to your prosecution or minimize your access to whistleblower protections. Recognizing when speaking up as a whistleblower is necessary can help you take other important steps to protect yourself and your coworkers.