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Sometimes individuals are in a position through their employment or other activity to observe unethical or unlawful conduct, or discover documentary evidence of wrongdoing. The wrongful acts may include an employer falsifying records or accounts, an accounting firm withholding information from the Internal Revenue Service, or a stockbroker unlawfully sharing insider information.
If you have witnessed such behavior or have knowledge of wrongful activities, you may not know what to do. You may fear that if you tell someone about the wrongdoing you could lose your job or be retaliated against in other ways.
A person who has damaging information about a large entity such as a company or government agency and chooses in good faith to disclose the wrongdoing is called a whistleblower.
Whistleblowers are protected by several federal and state laws against the punitive or deterrent actions an entity may take to intimidate and silence them. The actions may include firing, laying off, blacklisting, demoting, unfairly disciplining, as well as denying benefits, overtime, promotion, refusing to hire, intimidating, threatening, and reducing pay or hours.
The whistleblower laws are in place to encourage honest people to come forward with their knowledge of wrongful acts without fear of negative repercussions. Whistleblower protections are included in laws that regulate health and safety in the workplace, labor relations, toxic waste disposal, equal pay requirements, clean air, civil rights, antitrust, employment discrimination, and many more situations.
Talk with an experienced in whistleblower lawyer to determine if your knowledge or observations constitute illegal or unethical conduct. An attorney can advise you on how best to proceed and with whom you should share your information. Also, your lawyer can determine the whistleblower protections available to you and ensure they are applied in your case. Such protections may include keeping your identity secret.
As a whistleblower you may be entitled to receive back wages, attorney fees, money damages, or other compensation.