Many of us are taught the difference between right and wrong growing up and the importance of speaking out when we see unethical, illegal or unsafe activities. In an employment situation, an employee who exposes this behavior in the workplace is called a whistleblower.
The whistleblower may be concerned that they could face retaliation for reporting, including being fired or suffering reputational harm. They may be worried about finding future employment as well.
Examples of wrongdoing
A whistleblower may bring attention to corporate misconduct, like fraud, accounting errors and illegal trading, workplace safety concerns like hazardous working conditions or environmental violations, or instances of abuse of power, corruption or other illegal actions.
They may also expose discrimination or harassment in the workplace based on race, gender, sexual orientation, disability or another protected category.
Retaliation for reporting
If a whistleblower is retaliated against for reporting, they can take several steps. It’s important to document the retaliation, including the dates and times when it occurred, any other individuals present or involved and the actions that were taken by the employer.
Many organizations have mechanisms to report concerns internally, such as a hotline, email address or online reporting platform that will route the concern to the compliance team or a human resources representative. If the employee reports the issue internally, and it does not resolve the issue, they may want to consider filing a lawsuit against their employer for retaliation.
The employee may be entitled to receive damages and reinstatement of their position.