Top Tips for Workplace Whistle blowers

You’re in a very difficult position. You’ve just discovered that the company you’re working for is involved in unethical or illegal business practices. Keeping quiet about it makes you an accomplice. Reporting to the authorities is the right thing to do, but you’re understandably worried about the consequences. What should you do?

Your First Step: Get Legal Help!

Employment law experts, HKM Employment Attorneys, say that getting legal advice is the first step you should take. Do this before you place yourself at risk or incur any legal liability. Having expert guidance will help you to navigate the minefield of problems you could encounter as a whistle blower. Being a whistle blower is scary, but remaining silent about illegal activities makes you complicit in them. You could even end up shouldering the full burden of blame for your employer’s bad choices if someone else were to take action later on.

Mobilise Your Support System

As a whistle blower, you may be subject to retaliation that could range from personal threats to smear campaigns from those who want to discredit you. While your lawyers will do their utmost to help you, you’ll also need the support of your family. At the very least, they should be aware that you are about to have a very rough patch in your career, and that they will be indirectly affected. Ideally, you need their full support so that you aren’t fighting a battle on two fronts simultaneously.

Have a Plan

Work with your lawyers to develop a clear strategy to govern your actions. As with any strategy, begin with your goals and then determine how you might go about reaching them. Since you haven’t come forward yet, you should prepare for the actions that your employers will take to cover their tracks once they know they’ve been reported. For example, be sure to secure your evidence. Once your employers know the heat is on, they may destroy it. There are laws to protect whistle blowers. Confirm that they are applicable to your situation.

Will You be Anonymous, Confidential, or Go Public?

Even if you take steps to prevent your employers from finding out that you’re the whistle blower, the truth may come out.

You can report them in confidence, but they might still identify you since they’re likely to know who had access to the incriminating information you found. They might retaliate, and as a confidential whistle blower, you may have difficulty proving that their actions are retaliatory.

If you are completely anonymous, you can’t be reached if further evidence is required, and it will be even harder to prove retaliation if your employer decides you are to blame for any investigation.

If you go public, you face the risk of your company or your colleagues turning on you and seeking to discredit you. Your personal safety may even be at risk. On the other hand, you can easily prove retaliation. Discuss your options with your lawyer, weigh the pros and cons, and decide what will be best for you.

Stick to the Facts, Save Your Evidence, and Document the Process

Although your employer may be the one most deserving of being discredited, a failure to prove the misconduct you reported will leave you in a very uncomfortable position. Use your personal devices and your own time for saving evidence and reporting wrongdoing. Keep a timeline detailing your actions and evidence of the steps you took in case they are called into question at a later date. Don’t make any allegations you can’t prove. Doing so calls your credibility into question.

Plan for the Future, but Hold on While You Can

Whistleblowing requires bravery, but it’s also a way of protecting yourself. If your work helps your employers to break the law, you share responsibility for their actions. Naturally, you’ll be eager to leave as soon as you can – but as long as you’re able to go undetected, you’re a source of information that could help the cause of justice. Having reached a point where you see no other option other than reporting wrongdoing, you should certainly aim for employment in an organization you can be proud of. Consider updating your resume and starting to look out for opportunities.