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You always considered yourself to be an honest, upstanding person who made the right choices in difficult situations. But lately, you find yourself confronting some issues at work that makes you question that self-assessment.
What’s going on isn’t right — that much you know — but if you blow the whistle on your company, life as you know it will change for the worse. What should you do? Before you take any actions whatsoever, below are some important things to consider.
There are protections available to whistleblowers
The Dodd-Frank Act was made into law after the financial crisis of 2008 decimated the banking industry and other financial companies. It both protects and potentially rewards whistleblowers who report their companies for flouting of regulations over in the U.S. financial markets and in those companies that do business abroad.
It’s wise to gather your evidence
Just as a bell cannot be unrung, understand that once the whistle is blown, your access to documents and other information that proves your allegations will be at best severely curtailed — and likely barred. So, gather all proof of violations prior to taking any actions.
Consider carefully whether you should file an internal report
This one can be a bit of a sticky decision. On one hand, you can be incentivized to internally report what you know or have observed. On the other, doing so can remove the cloak of anonymity you otherwise had and expose you to retaliatory actions.
Determine whether your own actions could be culpable
In the course of your employment, you may have initially followed the crowd and been part of the problem. Whether you knew your actions were legally wrong or whether your employer coerced you into compliance, you could face both civil and criminal repercussions.
While whistleblowing could potentially mitigate any criminal consequences, you need to fully understand your own liability here.
Seek legal guidance first
This really can’t be emphasized enough. This is the best way to protect yourself from retaliation and other consequences and leave you on a solid legal footing for the actions you take next.