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What makes someone a whistleblower?

On Behalf of | Jan 3, 2023 | Employment Law, Whistleblower

There are some famous instances of workers coming forward to expose a company’s wrongdoings. These people often become synonymous with the term whistleblower, but what does that mean?

There is a lot more to qualify as a whistleblower than merely reporting something off about an employer.

Who qualifies as a whistleblower?

Someone working inside a company may become privy to details of their employer violating some law, including workplace and/or public safety laws, or that a product or service is misleading the public. A whistleblower often has a close association with the ins and outs of a specific issue within the company, and that access can help prove their assertion that those in charge are up to no good. A whistleblower should have proof and a willingness to testify, even if it casts him or her in a bad light.

A whistleblower may also witness the mistreatment of employees by superiors. This may come from breaking labor laws, such as employing minors to work in illegal positions, violations of wage or workplace safety laws, etc. Thus, a whistleblower need only have a desire to expose wrongdoing, whether it is for the public good or those of the employees.

Are there protections for a whistleblower?

Those who decide to expose corruption and wrongdoings may fear retaliation. There are several federal and state laws that protect qualified whistleblowers from retaliatory actions by their employers, including, but not limited to:

  • Wrongful Termination
  • Disciplinary actions (write-ups, suspensions, etc.)
  • Demotion
  • Withholding of wages and/or overtime pay
  • Reduction of work hours

A whistleblower can improve people’s lives, but it is not always an easy prospect. Anyone considering blowing the whistle on their employer or anyone who was retaliated against for whistleblowing activity should seek counsel from legal professionals as soon as possible.