A Short Guide to Whistleblowing: 10 Steps to Guide You Through the Process

Put simply, whistleblowing refers to a person reporting unethical or fraudulent activity in an organization. In most cases, the whistleblower is a member of the organization in which the wrongdoing is taking place. Whistleblowers are protected by law, but for a successful case there are a number of steps the whistleblower should take to increase the likelihood that justice is served and that their personal and professional lives are protected in the process.

  1. A whistleblower must have evidence that someone, usually a corporation or government contractor, has knowingly and intentionally not paid taxes or overbilled the government.
  2. The whistleblower needs to have more than just suspicions; he or she needs to collect concrete and legitimate documentation of the wrongdoing.
  3. To do this, the whistleblower needs to gather the following information: names and contact information of the parties involved in the wrongdoing, laws that he or she believes are being violated by said parties, and locations of incriminating documents, files, or computers.
  4. The whistleblower should keep the information and the case absolutely confidential and avoid discussing it with anyone other than a trusted attorney.
  5. Since cases like these often take a long time to settle, the whistleblower should prepare for a long process.
  6. Since companies and individuals do not take accusations of wrongdoing lightly, the whistleblower should be prepared for personal and professional backlash. It’s not uncommon for a whistleblower to be accused of being privy to the wrongdoing or even participating in it. Additionally, the accused may even launch an investigation on the whistleblower.
  7. Finding a new job should be a priority. Whistleblowers can get a bad reputation, which can affect finding a new job, so getting a new one before that happens is important.
  8. Whistleblowers should make sure that nothing they do risks the case or their own credibility. Being a model citizen and not doing anything that can be used against them is important for whistleblowers.
  9. There are Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines for whistleblowing, and these should be followed at all times.
  10. Since the whistleblowing process can be very stressful and complicated, it’s important to get support. In addition to finding an attorney for legal help, whistleblowers should look into resources like the National Whistleblowers Center, which is a nonpartisan group that educates, protects, and guides people through the whistleblowing process.

If you suspect or know that there is unethical or fraudulent activity going on in your organization, know that you are protected by the law. If you do choose to draw attention to it, you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible to help you through the process.

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