Let’s be honest- you know the old expression about where nice guys/girls finish- Well, in the workplace, that holds even more true as employees who step forward to do the right thing, oftentimes face retaliation at the hands of their employers for “whistleblowing” If you find yourself in a situation where you have brought wrongdoing to the attention of your employer, protect yourself by doing the following 7 things:
1. Put things in writing- Make sure you submit your complaints in writing to your manager or HR so there is a record of it;
2. Make a copy of what you put in writing- Believe it or not, employers will delete emails and documents to cover themselves and “deny deny deny.” If it is an email you send, print it, or copy your own personal address.
3. Tell your trusted co-workers (the close ones) what you did- It never hurts to have witnesses who will support you and observe things they see and hear in the workplace that may not be done in your presence.
4. Realize that you did the right thing- if you work in a place where illegalities (fraud, poor product quality, etc.) are occurring, someone on the end of that transaction (the consumer, the patient, etc.) may wind up getting injured or harmed as a result. The whistleblower laws were created to protect people from doing the right thing. Feel good about what you did.
5. Keep a log/record of anything that happens to you after you complain- In many instances, once an employee blows the whistle, things are fine and the employer appreciates the honesty. But, with other employers, things may become retaliatory and you may be treated adversely in the workplace. If these types of events arise (bad review, no raise, transfer to bad division, hostility) take place, record the date, time, place, and witnesses to the event. This will make things easier for your lawyer in the event litigation ensues.
6. Continue to Discuss with Your Manager/HR- If negative consequences flow as a result of your having blown the whistle, report back to your manager/HR in writing about what is going on. You want to keep a paper trail documenting that you are doing the right thing.
7. Do your job- You can only control what you can control. Do not give your employer an opportunity to find a “valid” reason to fire you. Do your job the way you know how and keep your eye on your goals. Things generally work out the way they are supposed to either because the employer did the right thing, or your lawyer takes them to court to protect your rights.