Metaphorically and literally, whistleblowing calls a lot of attention to whoever blows the whistle. And if you are a whistleblower against your employer, you are highly likely to receive a lot of negative attention for your actions.
In fact, federal and state governments have enacted several whistleblower protection laws because they know that employees who expose their employers’ wrongdoings face tremendous risk.
Before you expose any unlawful employment practices, it’s important to understand the risks of whistleblowing and to make sure you know how to protect yourself from whistleblower retaliation. One of your greatest sources of protection is a knowledgeable attorney.
At Brenton Legal, our experienced whistleblower retaliation attorneys are top-rated and can help ensure everything you need for a whistleblower claim and its aftermath is in place before you act.
The Pros and Cons of Whistleblowing
Even though you are taking a noble step to end misconduct in your workplace, whistleblowing can have several adverse effects on your personal and professional life. You should review the positives and risks of whistleblowing with an attorney before you take any steps to shake up the status quo.
The Consequences of Being a Whistleblower
Whistleblowing can have far-reaching, negative effects on your life that you should start preparing for right away. What are the dangers of whistleblowing? The following are common risks associated with disclosing the unlawful dealings of an employer.
- Job termination,
- Pay reduction,
- Benefit reduction,
- Exclusion from work opportunities,
- Unwanted job transfers or assignments, and
- Threats of disciplinary action.
If an employer takes this type of retaliatory action against you because you reported illegal activity, you can seek compensation and other relief under state and federal law. However, you will likely have to suffer the aftermath of unwarranted workplace discipline for a significant amount of time before relief comes your way.
Maybe you have no intention of staying with your employer after disclosing its failure to comply with the law, but leaving your old position does not mean your professional concerns are over as a whistleblower. As the Office of the Whistleblower Ombuds notes, some whistleblowers get pushed out of their fields of work after taking a stand.
If you report your employer to the authorities, you might have trouble finding a job with other employers in the same industry. Take time to reflect on the breadth of your professional experience and speak to an attorney before you take on the work of exposing your employer.
Employers engaging in unlawful conduct often fight dirty to protect their secrets. And there is a good chance your employer is going to fight dirty with you. If a business, organization, or agency has no qualms about breaking laws or abusing resources, it probably has no qualms about discrediting or harshly criticizing you in public forums.
Once again, a disgruntled employer’s criticism can stifle your attempts to find work with others, and it can also affect your personal connections and the social and professional lives of your family and friends.
Damage to physical or emotional health
Reporting an employer’s wrongful acts is stressful. This stress can manifest in significant physical and mental health struggles. You want to make sure you have a solid support system and healthcare in place when you embark on any efforts to blow the whistle on an unscrupulous employer.
The Benefits of Being a Whistleblower
We cannot sugarcoat the fact that whistleblowing is a scary undertaking, but there are also many positives that you should not ignore. Consider the following if you are thinking about reporting your boss.
Helping your co-workers, your clients, and the public
The unethical behavior of an employer can waste resources and squander taxpayer money. The behavior can also cause direct physical, financial, or mental harm to others. The law encourages whistleblowers to act because their disclosures can prevent this type of damage to the public, co-workers, and patrons. While it might be painful at the moment, your willingness to expose illegal business practices supports the greater good.
Reducing or eliminating your personal liability
If you are working for a business that breaks laws, your status as an employee could implicate you in serious criminal or civil claims. By exposing wrongdoing to supervisors or authorities, you may be able to avoid personal liability for your employer’s actions.
Peace of mind
Holding onto others’ secrets is a challenging undertaking, especially if those secrets are regarding harmful behavior. Despite the stress that whistleblowing involves, you might find that you can sleep easier at night after reporting workplace misconduct.
We understand that your motivation to disclose illegal work practices is likely not about money, but that does not mean you don’t deserve compensation for your efforts. Depending on the activities you expose in a whistleblower claim, you might recover a significant payout for your bravery.
In fact, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission reported paying $168 million to 13 whistleblowers in 2018. Several whistleblower protection laws include financial rewards for those who successfully expose wrongdoing.
How to Protect Yourself from Whistleblower Retaliation
There is no way to ensure that reporting your employer for illegal or unethical acts will not result in consequences for you. But we agree with the Office of Whistleblower Ombuds that there are steps you can take to protect yourself, including:
- Consulting an experienced whistleblower attorney before you take any action;
- Engaging in legal efforts to collect and protect evidence of wrongdoing;
- Making sure an ethical or legal violation occurred before making a disclosure;
- Ensuring that you understand and follow the proper procedure for disclosing information; and
- Consulting your loved ones regarding the potential blowback of your intended actions.
Remember that you must be careful about what you share with others regarding your plans. Indiscriminate sharing of the large or small details of your employer’s practices might subject you to a valid lawsuit that accuses you of breaking an employment agreement or other rules.
Speaking to your attorney first and immediately is vital to handling a whistleblower claim in the safest and most appropriate way.
Brenton Legal Has the Experience to Protect You
When you talk to an attorney at Brenton Legal, you are talking to a highly respected and experienced employment attorney who can help you make the best decisions for your circumstances.
The legal arena is no place to waste time, so we make sure we don’t waste yours. If we do not think you have a case, we can let you know immediately. And if you do have a case, we can guide you along the best course of action from start to finish. We currently serve employees across Florida. Contact us online or call us at 954-639-4644 for a free consultation.