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Be aware of your rights before blowing the whistle, P.1

Those working in heavily regulated environments know that there is a great deal of noncompliance that goes on. Unfortunately, corporations too often do not foster robust compliance efforts, and don’t take employees seriously when they report wrongdoing through the internal complaint process.

When an employee is unsuccessful in addressing violations of law through an employer’s internal reporting process, he or she has the option to report directly to the agency responsible for enforcing the laws. 

It is true that whistleblowers do take risks in providing information about fraud they become aware of in the course of their work. These risks include retaliation from the employer. Even though the identity of whistleblowers is kept confidential by enforcement agencies, their identity often becomes known to the employer. This is especially the case being that most whistleblowers have attempted to work through their company’s internal complaint process before becoming a whistleblower.

One fortunate reality is that legal protections and incentives have cleared the way, over the past twenty years, for employees and former employees to do this. These legal protections exist at both the state and federal level. Whistleblowing has particularly increased over the last few years with additional incentives being provided by federal agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

For an individual considering the possibility of becoming a whistleblower, it is important to be aware of how the process works and what protections and rewards are available. We’ll continue looking at this topic in our next post, and the potentially important role an experienced advocate can play in whistleblowing. 

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