5 Tips For Whistleblowers Before They Act

Are you really ready to blow the whistle on your employer’s illegal activities?

It’s time to have a good, hard look at what you’re about to do and make sure that you’ve taken all the steps you can to secure your own future before you take action:

— Be smart: Start gathering both the evidence you need to prove your case and the evidence you need to protect your job. Get all of the evidence you can, electronic or otherwise, that will support your case. Remember that the burden is on you to show that your employer is likely doing something illegal — the government won’t investigate based on your allegations alone.

— Don’t break the law while you’re gathering evidence: For example, logging into your supervisor’s computer while he or she is at lunch because the password is written in plain view is still breaking the law, even if your purpose is noble. You can end up suffering legal sanctions and serious credibility issues if you’re breaking the law in order to report lawbreaking.

— Recognize that your job is at risk: One study indicated that 74 percent of whistleblowers are fired, despite laws designed to protect them from retaliation. In order to protect your future, gather up every scrap of evidence that you have that you have been a valued employee over the years including awards, performance evaluations, attendance records, emails that praised your work and so on. Don’t walk away empty-handed in case you need to search for a new job.

— Keep records: Write down everything that is said, done or witnessed. Write down who was present when anything important happened and when it happened. Try to keep a factual account of events both before and after you blow the whistle.

— Get an attorney — quickly: Remember that time is the enemy when it comes to whistleblower cases. The financial incentives, while perhaps not the primary reason you’re acting, are considerable and can help compensate you for all the turmoil your about to go through — but the incentives are only given to the first person to inform on a company. Anyone who follows after is out of luck.

Source: Workplace Fairness, “Blowing the Whistle – Practical Tips,” accessed March 24, 2017