Whistleblowers play a crucial role in safeguarding public interests. However, whistleblowing also comes with its share of risks. It is not uncommon for whistleblowers to be ostracized or subjected to retaliation by their employers. Fortunately, if you are a would-be whistleblower, it helps to know that the law is on your side.
That said, it is important that you understand the extent of your protection. Here are common mistakes that you need to steer clear of while blowing the whistle.
Ignoring the right procedure
Just because you have witnessed wrongdoing at work does not mean that you have to get the word out about it. Most organizations require employees to try to exploit internal means of addressing the problem before going public.
Failing to understand applicable laws
The U.S has multiple federal laws that protect whistleblowers. These include the 1863 False Claims Act, the 1989 Whistleblower Protect Act and the 2012 Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA). Additionally, Michigan has its own whistleblower laws. Before reporting a wrongful action, it is important that you understand which laws apply to your situation and exactly what they say with respect to your protection.
Failing to keep a record
Most often, you will expect some sort of retaliation for whistleblowing. As such, it is important that you keep a record of everything that will counter the narrative that your employer might come up with. This is where preserving key documents come in. Be sure to work through written communication as much as you can. Additionally, ensure that you keep clear records of names and dates as well as clear descriptions of the wrongful events in question. Without proper evidence, you will have a difficult time countering your employer’s assertions in court.
The decision to report wrongdoing at work is rarely easy. Find out how you can protect your rights and interests while whistleblowing at work.