Minneapolis employment law attorney discusses how a whistleblower can protect themselves.
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It really depends how one can protect themselves as a whistleblower, depending on what their situation is. The two situations that are most frequently we’re aware of are a person who may have a False Claims Act case, where they’re aware of government fraud, and then what to do under those circumstances. If the person is still employed, we’ll advise the person how to go about making reports internally so that they can be protected from retaliation and to put the company on notice to take proper corrective action.
Hopefully, at the end of the day, if the employer’s a good employer, they may actually take that information and do the right thing. However, most of the time, these people end up being retaliated against and fired. Before that happens, if you see a lawyer and get advice, someone who’s experienced in this area, they can advise you on what steps to take to make sure you’re protected and that you’re well set up to bring forward a False Claims Act case if you so choose to do that later.
If it’s a claim under a state whistleblower statute, very similar, however. But if you have information about an employer engaging in illegal conduct, you should always make a written report to the employer and raise concern that you believe it’s illegal and that you’re concerned that the conduct, if it continues, might result in some illegal conduct or some fraud against the government or some fraud against another entity, and indicate that you’re concerned about retaliation for reporting.
The reason you want to do that is so that there’ll be a record that you in fact went forward, that you brought it to the attention of the employer, you asked them to take action, and then if it does play out that you are retaliated against, it will be evidence of retaliation. Of course, an employee would hope – most employees who come to us want to keep their job, and so you’d hope the employer would do the right thing, take that information and stop the practice, and not retaliate. But, more often than not, it’s the former.