If you are in a position to blow the whistle on illegal practices by your employer, you must understand that there are protections in place, should you choose to file a report. This includes protection from retaliation.
However, these protections are only in place if the whistle blowing is done properly and in accordance with the law. This is an issue the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review at the end of its next session, as disputes regarding whether internal reporting is sufficient have arisen in recent years.
The issue stems from the obligation whistleblowers have to comply with specific reporting requirements.
The case the Supreme Court with review raised the issue of whether an employee is protected from retaliation if he or she reports securities law violations internally, but fails to report them to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
One side of the case argues that the law currently defines a whistleblower as someone who reports a violation to the agency. Failure to do this would mean that a person could not be defined as (and therefore protected as) as a whistleblower.
On the other hand, there is the argument that internal reporting should suffice in terms of securing anti-retaliation protection for the whistleblower. If a person is only protected from retaliation if they report misconduct to the SEC, then whistleblowers would be motivated to simply bypass internal reporting systems and go directly to the government.
The decision of the Supreme Court will be critical in guiding similar cases here in New York and elsewhere in the future, so we will certainly revisit this story after the justices review the case.
In the meantime, we urge any person weighing the decision to report corporate misconduct to consult an attorney before coming to any conclusions. With legal guidance, you can protect yourself, your job and your rights as you make some difficult — but critical — decisions.