Acting as a whistleblower is a role that should not be taken lightly. It puts an employee in a very difficult and stressful position that takes an emotional toll on a person. He or she can feel disloyal, scared and vulnerable to serious repercussions. However, it is also a courageous act that can lead to the exposure of illegal or unethical conduct in a company or agency.
Considering all that is at stake in these situations, it is important to recognize the various measures in place to protect whistleblowers, primarily the Whistleblower Protection Act. And more protections could be coming thanks to the “Follow the Rules Act” currently making its way through Congress.
According to this article from Vice, the new bill expands the protections granted under the Whistleblower Protection Act to high-level federal employees. It also reinforces the protection from retaliation for employees who refuse to comply with an employer’s order to break a law or regulation.
The new bill still needs to make it though the Senate and get the president’s approval.
Some people might assume President Trump would not favor a bill that makes it easier for whistleblowers to get protection, considering his vocal distain for “leakers” in his own administration. However, as the article also notes, these and other legal protections are only guaranteed if people follow the rules of blowing the whistle, rather than taking matters into their own hands.
Whether the bill will become a law or not remains to be seen. Regardless, this is a good opportunity to remind readers of the extremely difficult decisions that must be made by potential whistleblowers. In order to be protected as a whistleblower, you must comply with strict requirements and deadlines. Failure to do so could leave you exposed to penalties like job loss, criminal penalties and a destroyed reputation.
Exposing injustice and illegal behaviors is critical to protecting the public and bringing positive change to a company; however, it puts a person in a very difficult position. Before you make any decisions about leaking information or reporting unethical behavior, it is crucial that you consult an attorney. With legal guidance, you can avoid costly missteps that jeopardize your future and your career.