Discovering illegal practices at work can put you in a distressing position. The situation forces you to choose between your loyalty to your employer and your need to do what is right. Should you talk to your employer before blowing the whistle on these practices?
Your decision to inform your employer before taking further action carries potential risks and benefits that require careful consideration.
Consider open communication
Open communication often helps to resolve issues. If you talk to your employer about your concerns, they might address the problem internally. Your employer might not know about the illegal practices and your disclosure could prompt immediate remedial action. However, you need to be aware that this approach could have drawbacks.
Assess the risks
Speaking up about your concerns to your employer could lead to adverse effects. Whistleblowers sometimes face retaliation from their employers, which can range from ostracization by coworkers to demotion or even termination. Despite laws protecting whistleblowers, retaliation is a real risk, and you need to consider this before deciding to talk to your employer.
Familiarize yourself with whistleblower protections
Several federal and state laws offer protection to whistleblowers. These laws aim to shield you from retaliation, and some even provide rewards for exposing illegal activities. You need to understand these laws, their scope and limitations, before you make your decision.
Regardless of whether you decide to talk to your employer, you need to document everything thoroughly. Gather and keep evidence of illegal activities and document all interactions about your concerns. This documentation may help protect your rights and support your claims.
Deciding whether to talk to your employer before blowing the whistle on illegal practices is a personal decision. No matter what you decide, you need to act ethically and stand up for what is right, even in difficult circumstances.