From the time we are very young, we are taught to do the right thing. We are told that we shouldn't lie, that we should protect others and that we should speak up if someone is doing something wrong.
Those lessons don't go away when we get older, but they can be far more difficult to abide by as adult when doing these things puts our own well-being in jeopardy. This is why acting as a whistleblower can be so intimidating.
Backing up a little, we should explain that a whistleblower is someone who reports unsafe, illegal or improper behaviors by an employer. Reportable behaviors could include violations of environmental protection laws, unethical treatment, or fraud against the government.
If you are in a position to blow the whistle against an employer engaged in these or similar activities, you may be scared, intimidated and unsure of what exactly a whistleblower does. This is all certainly understandable, so we hope some of your concerns can by allayed with a few key clarifications.
- Yes, blowing the whistle can have dramatic fallout, but a person with whistleblower status is protected against all types of retaliation by federal and state laws. In other words, you cannot be demoted, fired, transferred or harassed once you are a protected whistleblower.
- There are specific steps you must take to secure whistleblower status, and you don't need to figure those out on your own. An attorney can help you navigate the steps to whistle blowing.
- You don't have to break the law to support your claim. In fact, breaking the law to gather evidence could ultimately call your credibility into question. Once you report wrongdoing, state and federal agencies will take over.
- Whistleblowers protect themselves, consumers, employees and other parties with their actions. So, even though you might be scared of being exposed, it is a crucial role you are playing as a whistleblower.
If you are considering blowing the whistle in New York, do not take your decision lightly or act without knowing your legal options and protections. Consult an attorney who appreciates the importance of protecting whistleblowers and can help you make the right decisions.