How to Protect Yourself as a Whistleblower

Law enforcement officers and regulators rely on inside information to take down corporate fraud. They rely on whistleblowers to do the right thing and report serious ethical violations. Their work is complicated by companies that discourage employees from reporting misdeeds or do not go far enough to protect them.

Companies should place more importance on protecting whistleblowers and their identities. Encouraging these protectors to report violations will help the business and prevent costly financial burdens.

Determine What Is Considered As Protection

Most states have laws to protect whistleblowers; and, even further, corporations have created special programs to extend these protections. Though these go a long way in safeguarding informants, there is a fine line between protection and equitable punishment. Before providing information, you may want to research your state’s laws or seek advice from an attorney.

Use Anonymous Reporting To Protect Against Retaliation

Your employer can’t punish you if they don’t know you were the one who reported violations. Your company may offer whistleblowers the option to report anonymously.  Some state agencies also offer identity protection. Check with your state’s attorney general or secretary of state.

Keep Detailed Notes And Collect Evidence

Protect yourself by keeping detailed records noting the date and times the violation took place, evidence supporting your claim, and important information about the time and date you reported the incident and who you reported it to. Consider recording conversations, if it is legally allowed. Federal law and state law in all but 11 states allow for only one-party consent. You are considered one of the parties.

Follow Company Guidelines And Regulations

Follow all of the rules and regulations. Comply with reasonable, legal manager requests, and always treat your supervisor with respect. In other words, be a good employee.

Fight Back Against Retaliation

Some federal agencies have administrative laws preventing whistleblowers from losing their job due to their reports, but there is a catch. You must report the termination before the statute of limitations expire.

If you report water safety violations to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), you cannot be punished for your truthful actions. The Safe Drinking Water Act protects whistleblowers, but you are required to file a complaint within 30 days from the date you are fired.

On the other hand, reporting retaliation because of financial whistleblowing gives more time. Under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), you have 180 days to report punitive actions.

Another element to consider is where to report retaliation. Many whistleblower complaints must be filed first with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This include non-safety situations such as SOX.

Ethical Advocate helps businesses protect their company by providing hotline solutions and training. Learn more about how a whistleblower program can save your company money.