The law protects people willing to blow the whistle on illegal or fraudulent activity. However, even with the legal protections available, whistleblowers should still take steps to protect themselves and their careers before reporting. What steps should whistleblowers say before making their report?
Know your rights as a whistleblower.
State and federal laws offer protections for whistleblowers, even those who previously participated in the fraud. Knowing your rights can help you protect your career and understand the incentives available to you, including a reward of up to 30 percent of the money collected in the lawsuit.
Document everything you can.
Giving your claim as much support as possible can be critical. Writing a journal to document people involved and when conversations occurred, preserving emails about the illegal activity, collecting financial records and taking other steps can provide that support.
Prepare for challenges.
Consider how your employer will respond to the report. Will they attempt to identify the whistleblower? Is it a possibility that your employer will destroy evidence? Considering these possibilities can help you prepare for those challenges and preserve evidence to protect yourself and support your claim.
Take steps to protect your career.
One significant challenge that whistleblowers face is retaliation. Many lose their position. Others experience suspensions, transfers, poor performance reviews, harassment or demotion. In fact, the General Accounting Office (GAO) found that federal whistleblowers were ten times more likely to be fired than those who did not report fraud.
Retaliation in any form can seriously impact a person’s career. To protect themselves from retaliation, whistleblowers must consider their options before reporting. Documenting any concerns can help you build your case if your employer does retaliate against you. Knowing the legal requirements for whistleblowers can help you protect your job and, in some cases, allow you to remain anonymous.
Seek legal guidance.
Whistleblowing protections exist on both the state and federal level. This leaves workers with a complex legal landscape to navigate when reporting fraud or illegal activities. Speaking with an attorney can help you comply with any legal requirements, protect your rights and give your claim the greatest chance of success.