Whistleblowing is the practice of bringing to light unethical or illegal behavior in the workplace. Often, informants have an internal position within the company.
Some companies will go to great lengths to conceal and cover illegal conduct. A whistleblower could break this operation wide open and jeopardize a company’s image and operation.
Reasons for blowing the whistle
Prior to blowing the whistle, individuals should go to adequate lengths to gather and document evidence. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, conduct worthy of whistleblowing include the following:
- Abuse of authority
- Misuse of funds
- Mismanagement of investments
- Violation of laws, ordinances or regulations
- Substantial threats to public health or safety
Protection from retaliation
Whistleblowers could face intense scrutiny from the people they work with. In serious cases, this retaliation can damage a person’s reputation and career. The United States Department of Labor considers adverse actions to include pay reductions, interferences with future employment opportunities, and demotion or denying overtime. Retaliation can also include threats, intimidation and harassment, as well as mocking and making false accusations.
People who report unethical behavior in the workplace should continue to receive support and fair employment opportunities from their employers. Retaliation of any kind is against the law and can have damaging consequences for whistleblowers.
If people plan to expose their employer, they should first gather evidence and have some proof of their claims. Documentation should include the dates and times of retaliatory acts, as well as a description of the behavior. With the right approach, they can better protect themselves from the sometimes-extreme reactions of disgruntled higher-ups.