Whistleblowers play a crucial role in promoting transparency, accountability, and ethical behavior in institutions and organizations. Whistleblowers report employers who engage in illegal, unethical, and dishonest activities to authorities. For example, whistleblowers report fraud, safety violations, corruption, and other forms of misconduct. However, before blowing the whistle, you need to know that whistleblowing is a complex and sensitive process. If you are considering being a whistleblower, it is vital that you understand what you need to do and avoid doing to protect yourself and ensure your actions are effective. In this article, we discuss some of the dos and don’ts for whistleblowers;
Do: Understand Whistleblower Laws
One of the most important things to do before blowing the whistle is to learn about whistleblower laws. Take time to understand both federal and state whistleblower laws. Learn about what rights you have as a whistleblower. For instance, whistleblowers are protected from retaliation. This means employers are prohibited from terminating, harassing, demoting, or taking another adverse employment action against a whistleblower.
Do: Seek Legal Guidance
Before blowing the whistle, consult an employment law attorney specializing in whistleblower protection. An attorney can help you understand the law. They can help you understand and protect our legal rights. A skilled attorney can guide you on how to proceed.
Do: Document Everything
As a whistleblower, it is important that you document everything. Keep a detailed record of the misconduct, including dates, locations, and the parties involved. Preserve emails, pictures, and any other materials that support your claims. Documentation helps in preserving evidence. It helps ensure that you do not forget any crucial details.
Do: File a Formal Complaint
Filing a formal complaint when whistleblowing is crucial for several reasons. A formal complaint serves as legal documentation of your allegations. This documentation can be vital in investigations and legal proceedings. You can also use a formal complaint as evidence to protect yourself from retaliation. If you face an adverse action for coming forward, your recorded complaint can help demonstrate the connection between your disclosure and the subsequent negative consequence.
Don’t: Bypass Internal Reporting Procedures Without Cause
If your employer has a whistleblowing policy in place that tells you how to raise your concerns, follow this procedure unless there is a valid reason to believe that the internal reporting channels are ineffective, compromised, or would result in retaliation.
Don’t: Blow the Whistle Unless You Have All the Facts
Before making any allegations against your employer, you must have strong evidence. Strong evidence adds credibility to your claims. Clear and convincing evidence increases the chances that your claims will be investigated. Additionally, strong evidence can support your case if you experience adverse actions because of your disclosure.
Don’t: Engage in Unlawful Activity
While whistleblowing is a protected activity, engaging in illegal activity, such as stealing or hacking to gather evidence or information, is not. You should only use legal means to gather information or evidence. A qualified attorney can help you gather evidence.
Don’t: Talk to Everyone
Finally, you should avoid the temptation of telling your story to everyone. Telling your story to everyone may compromise ongoing investigations. It may also increase the risk of retaliation.
Contact Us for Legal Help
If you are considering being a whistleblower, contact our skilled and dedicated New Jersey employment lawyer at The Trabosh Law Firm for legal guidance.