How To Protect Yourself If You Decide To Whistleblow
Are you tired of unsafe or corrupt practices in your workplace? If you're just about at your wit's end and feel the need to affect change, you might be considering whistleblowing, or reporting the corruption to the relevant institution or organization. The world needs whistleblowers to keep people honest and make changes when corruption takes over, but choosing to be one of these whistleblowers can be challenging and have some negative impacts on your life. Here are some tips to follow during the process in order to keep yourself safe.
1. Document everything.
Everything you report will be scrutinized endlessly. If you don't have documentation of your claims, they will not (and in many cases, cannot) be taken seriously. Keep copies of every email, letter, and other interaction that illustrates the corruption you're trying to expose. Keep a journal of events for which there is no other written evidence. Date and sign each entry. Keep your documentation at home; you would not be the first one to have it go missing overnight after leaving it in your office desk.
2. Meet with officials in person.
When you report your case to the responsible party, whether that be OSHA, the Attorney General, or some other party, try to do so in person. Most organizations will allow you a face-to-face meeting, although you might need to wait a few weeks to get the meeting scheduled. Meeting in person makes it easier for the other party to ask you questions for verification. You'll also have an easier time expressing the emotions related to the event when speaking with someone in person, rather than writing an email or letter.
3. Keep a lawyer on retainer.
Chances are, you will end up in a lawsuit against your employer. If others have been wronged, it may end up being a class-action lawsuit. Retain the services of a whistleblower protection attorney from the very beginning. This way, the attorney can advise you while you meet with the relevant agency, collect evidence from your employer, and so forth. You may have to pay a retainer fee up-front, but if you win your case, you will get this money back.
4. Save up some cash.
Before you officially report your employer, make sure that you personally save some cash. This way, if you need to move because people are threatening you, or buy a new car because people are following you, the money will be available for you to take action.