The term “whistleblowing” refers to the making of reports by certain people about misconduct, including fraud, dangerous working conditions and purposeful violations of the law. Several federal laws offer protections to whistleblowers in Rhode Island and around the country.
Some whistleblowers receive protection through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program allows you to file a complaint about unsafe working conditions. It also protects you from facing the following adverse actions in retaliation:
• Refusal of overtime
• Promotion denials
• Benefit denial
• Threats and intimidation
• Reducing pay
Documenting vs. gathering evidence
In order for whistleblower cases to be successful, the authorities need evidence. However, some whistleblowers cause legal problems for themselves when they attempt to physically gather evidence. In contrast, documenting every instance and communication related to the illegal activity provides a much safer boost to the investigation. Documenting the evidence does not require you to physically remove evidence.
Whistleblowers sometimes hesitate to report wrongdoing that they witness because they participated. However, you may still report the wrongdoing even if you played a role. In most cases, the law protects you.
Recording illegal activity
In a rush to provide evidence, some whistleblowers attempt to record phone conversations or take video recordings. The laws regarding recordings tend to be extremely complex, and you may end up violating the law by making recordings without the consent of others. Refrain from recording anyone unless you are working with law enforcement or legal counsel.
Prepare for a long fight
Your decision to report your company for wrongdoing starts an important process of holding the company accountable. However, the legal process may take years to make its way through the courts. If you stand to earn whistleblower benefits or rewards, the process may take even longer.