The Unique Role of a Whistleblower
As we have seen so many times in our society, corruption and inappropriate behavior often go unchecked until one brave person steps forward to call attention to criminal activity. After this person—who is often referred to as the whistleblower—disrupts the disjointed status quo, many more will usually come forward to corroborate their account and lend their own voices to a movement. When the dust has settled, the whistleblower may be lauded for their work to put a stop to discriminatory corporate culture or another form of corruption. However, in the midst of a battle that may threaten a company’s very existence, it can be incredibly difficult to speak out against those who are in power. A whistleblower lawyer can help you give voice to your concerns.
Examples of Whistleblowers
If you are a whistleblower, you are in great company. Some whistleblowers have quite literally changed the course of history. W. Mark Felt, more commonly known by the code name “Deep Throat” in the press, was responsible for providing the crucial information needed to connect President Richard Nixon to the Watergate break-in, thus effectively ending Nixon’s presidency. If Felt had not come forward, the White House might have suffered the effects of corruption for much longer.
The eighties film Silkwood cast Meryl Streep in the role of Karen Silkwood, a real woman who brought to light the fact that nuclear plant employees were being exposed to plutonium. Her life and mysterious death in a car crash led to a more enhanced understanding of the means and ways in which whistleblowers can be placed in imminent danger.
Harry M. Markopolos is a former securities executive who blew the whistle on Bernie Madoff’s massive Ponzi scheme, exposing the great theft Madoff had perpetrated. Erin Brockovich is a whistleblower who discovered that unsafe levels of hexavalent chromium were present in Hinkley, California. Her life story was also made into a movie, this time starring Julia Roberts.
How Are Whistleblowers Protected?
In the eyes of the law, it is critical that whistleblowers are shielded from any kind retaliation. For instance, if you file a report with OSHA that your boss has violated the law, your employer is not permitted to discriminate against you due to the report. When money, power, and prestige are at stake, many people will go to great lengths to ensure that their position is protected. Whistleblower laws have been created to protect those who become vulnerable after speaking publicly about what they know or reporting it.
Once a whistleblower is identified, they may find that they are excluded from workplace activities. Perhaps their annual review has suddenly become tainted with bad comments when the past several years’ reviews have been completely positive. Maybe they receive a sudden demotion or decrease in salary. All of the above examples are illegal when it comes to the treatment of whistleblowers. From reducing work hours to other extreme tactics, there seems to be no limit to how employers have tried to punish those who speak out. The law strictly prohibits this.
Should I Hire a Whistleblower Lawyer?
When you look at the history of whistleblowers and how they have been treated in the past, the chances are that you will have the urge to protect yourself in every way possible. Also, wisdom indicates that when you are facing off against a large corporation or another individual with a lot of pull, they will have a lot of resources at their disposal. Some may have access to entire legal departments. And when you are faced with such daunting opposition, “going it alone” does not seem to be the wisest decision.
Meeting with a whistleblower lawyer or just calling for consultation is very simple to do, and it may set your mind at ease a bit. Because this area of the law can be so intricate and because your employer should know that you are protected against retaliation from the start working with a whistleblower attorney can provide a great sense of relief. Indeed, there is nothing to lose and much to be gained—from having a conversation with an attorney who handles these kinds of cases on a regular basis.
- This article should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute legal advice, and it does not create an attorney-client relationship with anyone. If you need legal advice, please consult an attorney in your community.
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