In many circumstances you may be exposed to on a daily basis, it’s easy to blur the lines between right and wrong and say, “Everybody does it.” But that does not make it okay.
As young children we are taught to tell someone when we see something that is being done and is wrong, but as we get older that same situation becomes “tattling” and we may get chastised for doing it, slowly teaching us that it’s better to just not say anything at all than to risk embarrassment or reprimands.
As adults, doing the right thing can even result in wrongful punishment in many occasions, and that instilled childhood fear combined with the very real need to avoid losing your job and other consequences may hold you back from reporting something that you know is illegal or unethical.
However, we are not children anymore and the violation of ethical and legal lines can result in serious harm if it is not reported and stopped. There are systems in place to protect you from “bullies” in the workplace who may not like being exposed for their wrongdoings.
Remembering these 5 important points can help you stay strong when you feel like you are being punished for doing the right thing.
- It takes a lot of courage to become a whistleblower.
Just like when you were a child and you were debating on telling on the popular kid for teasing, bullying, or other wrong actions, you know there will be those who don’t believe you and you will inevitably become the bad guy in some people’s eyes.
There will be times where you will question yourself as to whether you should have taken the actions that you did, doubt yourself and your choices, and face fears during the whistleblowing process. This is normal.
Just hold on to the knowledge that you did the right thing, and even while you are facing the hardships and obstacles that come with fighting the giants, you are on the right side, and that makes all the difference.
- The most important thing you can do after you have blown the whistle is to find yourself an expert attorney that you trust.
Whichever law firm you choose to represent you must have experience with whistleblower cases and the rights you are entitled to. The attorney that you are working with will be the person you are going to turn to for guidance for a long time while your case is in process, possibly even years, so you need to trust them implicitly.
Take the time to set up a confidential consultation with a few legal representatives in your area who have good reputations as dependable, reputable lawyers in the field of fraud reporting. Ask them about the employment laws in your state, concerns you have about overtime and wage issues, wrongful termination rights, or discrimination policies as they pertain to your individual case.
Depending on their answers and if you feel that you can trust them to look out for your best interests, you may quickly find the legal expert that can help you on your journey as a whistleblower, or you may have to keep searching until you find someone you can trust.
You can begin to vet your potential attorneys by reviewing the information available on their websites, like MBradyLaw.com and those of other experts in these types of cases, to determine if they may be the lawyers that you turn to in this important decision-making process.
- Your rights as a whistleblower are so important they have dedicated an entire government branch to protecting them.
The United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration has a number of safety programs in effect to protect you as you do the right thing under their Whistleblower Protection Programs.
If you feel like you are being punished or retaliated against because you did the right thing by reporting injuries, harassment, safety concerns, or other protected activities, you can file a complaint with your state or federal OSHA branch, and simultaneously begin the process of looking for an attorney who can protect your rights and help you receive benefits, such as lost wages and health insurance, that you may have been denied through wrongful termination or other retaliation methods.
- You are appreciated – even if you don’t notice it at the time.
It may not seem like it while you feel like a little cog in a big system, but the government does appreciate you and has systems in place to help people who want to fight the big guys to help make the world a better place.
The False Claims Act allows for “qui tam” whistleblower lawsuits, for one, and the SEC whistleblower programs were created through the Dodd-Frank Act because of individuals like you who blew the whistle on illegal and unethical activities.
- Honesty is the best policy, regardless of how you feel you may be perceived.
You will be interrogated – multiple times. Stay honest and stick to the facts. If you have an opinion on something, clarify that it is your opinion. But don’t cloud the facts with concerns of how you will look to others.
The resolution of the case is completed by providing evidence through fact-finding based on information that only you may be able to provide. You may be the key that helps stop the illegal or unethical activities from continuing.
Stick to Your Principles and Trust Your Attorney to Help You
Your attorney will advise you as to the options that you have while you are going through this difficult time. Work closely with them to ensure that you both know what is going on at all times and that you have full transparency from them – but you must be fully transparent to them as well.
Regardless of the situation, time is always crucial in a whistleblower case, so don’t wait – find a legal representative to help you understand your rights and get the protection and benefits that you deserve because you stood by your principles and ethics and did the right thing.