Minneapolis employment law attorney discusses obstacles of whistleblowers when deciding to out a big corporation or powerful government.
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A whistleblower is often a person who has very strong values. They’re often very courageous people because every whistleblower knows that if they go forward and report their employer, if it’s an employer, for misconduct, for engaging in illegal conduct, it’s almost certain, once the employer learns that, that they will no longer have a job. So they have to weigh, do a cost-benefit analysis – sort of their morality on the one hand, and their job and their need to support their family on the other hand. And many people, when they do that cost-benefit analysis, will not go forward. They choose to pursue the job and keep their mouth shut and to just continue as business as usual.
However, those people who have the courage, they will stand up and they will say, “No, this is not right and I want you to do something about it. And if you don’t do something about it, I’m gonna make sure that you do.” And, oftentimes, that means going to other government agencies and reporting it. And, oftentimes, when a person reports internally and nothing is done, that person will reach out to a U.S. Attorney, a state’s attorney-general or other office, government office, to report that conduct.
So, for a whistleblower to stand up, they have to feel confident that they will have support, and that’s when a lawyer comes into play. Oftentimes, we will get calls from people before they ever make the report of whistle blowing, and we’ll walk them through what they need to do and give them the confidence, and to let them know that they have a support structure. They can call me or my staff at any time and talk about what’s going on and how to make that report and how to protect yourself. It’s very important when you’re a reporter to do it on a regular basis. So if a company does not take action after you make your initial report, it’s important that you continue to put them on notice until such time as it’s apparent that they’re not gonna take any action, and then maybe go outside.
So it’s a very planful process and it’s important that it be a planful process and that it be properly documented because some day, if there is litigation, you want to make sure you have everything laid out and that you could present a case based upon evidence. And one of the things that we advise people to do, if there are documents that might help prove your case, to collect those things while you’re still employed, because once you’re terminated, you won’t have access any longer. And we can help. If you go to a law firm, they can help you try to determine what might be important.