Whistleblowing is not just something a train conductor does when a train is approaching the station. Whistleblowing is the act of reporting wrongful activity in the workplace to higher authorities. This may mean reporting fraud, criminal activities, health and safety violations, cover-ups or corruption caused by someone in a commanding position.
Whistleblowing may seem like a risky move for people looking for a day-to-day job. You should know, however, that a whistleblower can protect themselves, the workers around them and the safety of the public. For that reason, whistleblowers have special protections under the law.
Here’s what a whistleblower should know:
Employers must not retaliate against whistleblowers
Your employer may be upset when you report them for violating the safety and security of others. They may seek to lash out against you, reduce your pay, demote you, move you to a less desirable working spot, or even fire you.
Your employer may be intimidating at first, but you’re in luck. Blowing the whistle is seen as a public service and grants you protection against that kind of retaliation – but you have to be proactive:
- Before you blow the whistle, make sure you fully understand your company’s chain of command and policies on reporting problems, so you don’t violate any agreements.
- Copy all of your prior employment evaluations and work records, including emails about your positive job performance in case you suddenly find yourself labeled a “bad” employee.
- Keep track of all your communications with your employer once you’ve taken action and store copies on your personal electronics or in hard form.
Seek legal help to protect yourself if you need to tell on your employer or are worried because you have already done so.