Whistleblowing: Are you Protected?
A whistleblower is defined as someone who reports workplace misconduct. This means that they are telling someone about bad things that are happening in the company that they work for. This could be pollution or even the way that they treat their employees, and anything in between.
Whistleblowers don’t even have to be employees at the time that they report any wrongdoings. They could be a past employee too!
They can report things that are happening now, happened in the past, or will happen in the future. Even if something is in the planning stages, if you report it, you could be considered a whistleblower.
That being said, there are three types of whistleblowers. These include:
Internal whistleblowing. If you end up reporting any wrongdoings to someone in the company that you work (or worked for), this is considered internal whistleblowing. You don’t have to go to the manager for it to be considered internal! If you work for a chain that is treating employees wrong, you can go to corporate and complain. This is still considered internal because it is a part of the company!
Bigger companies may have their own internal whistleblowing policies in place. They may have something in their handbook that outlines how you should proceed with any complaints. You must follow these guidelines so that you are protected as a whistleblower.
External whistleblowing. This means that you are going to someone outside of the company. Most commonly, when someone is involved in external whistleblowing, they go to the local police or even the media to report a problem.
Cyber whistleblowing. Because we now live in an online world, we have cyber whistleblowing. When you are talking about this type of whistleblowing, you are talking about security breaches, hacking into computer systems, encryption deficiencies, and other unsecure practices that a company may be engaging in.
What happens if you are caught whistleblowing? Are you protected?
There are laws that are in place to protect you as a whistleblower. The most common one is the Whistleblower Protection Act, though the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the Dodd-Frank Act may also protect you. These are to protect you from any retaliation that you may face, even if you were wrong about the company.
However, you must report the wrongdoing in good faith. You must have serious reason to believe that the company that you work (or worked) for is doing something wrong. You must take the proper steps to report it to the authorities in order to be protected.
If you don’t, you won’t be protected by the Whistleblower Protection Act, which means that you could be demoted or even fired for reporting any wrongdoing. You also can’t participate in the wrongdoing, or you could be held accountable too. If there is an investigation, you need to stay out of it if you want the full protection of the law.
Whistleblowing simply means that you are speaking out against the company that you work for. You could go to someone that is higher up in the company (internal), or you may end up going to the police (external). If you are concerned about cyber safety, it is considered cyber whistleblowing.
If you are struggling at work because something is just not right, you need to speak up. As long as you hire a lawyer and do it the right way, you are protected from any retaliation. You can’t be demoted or lose your job because you spoke out against the company that you work for.
Don’t hesitate to contact us if you need to speak out. We will be glad to help you do this the right way and help you protect your job.