Blowing the whistle on someone or at an organization is a serious and risky situation. The whole process puts your life, job, family, and even friends in jeopardy. Therefore, your priority should be finding a good whistleblower lawyer, especially since not all whistleblowing is lawful.
In addition, most whistleblower laws allow you to obtain a financial reward. It is therefore essential to understand your rights, duties, risk, and obligations when deciding to blow the whistle.
We’ll review the meaning of whistleblowing, the qualities of a good whistleblower lawyer, and the criteria for choosing a great whistleblower lawyer.
What Is Whistleblowing?
Whistleblowing is when someone passes information about wrongful acts within a particular organization to a higher authority. Often, the whistleblower is closely related within the organization, like a team member, a supplier or a customer.
You can become a whistleblower if you observe actions or behavior that you believe is illegal, misconduct, or not in line with the company’s code of conduct. For example, corruption or sexual harassment issues. Whistleblowing is not limited to work environments ―it can also happen in other places like homes or public spaces.
There are two types of whistleblowing:
- Public whistleblowing: This can occur due to lack of trust in a work environment. An employee can be inclined to blow the whistle publicly. For instance, an employee can go to the police, post on social media platforms, or go to the media. Unfortunately, this method puts the organization at a higher risk of public reputation damage. In addition, some cases require reports to be made to a professional regulator or a body directly.
- Organizational whistleblowing: This is when an organization puts a platform in place to reduce the risk of malpractices. The platform ensures that the supervisors and managers can control any damage after getting a tip on irregularities early on. Most organizations have mechanisms that enable organizational whistleblowing, like a hotline or a secure whistleblowing system.
What Is the Criteria for Whistleblowing?
Whistleblower protection laws differ in definition and depending on jurisdiction. In addition, perspectives vary from one organization to another. Nevertheless, there are a few common grounds for whistleblowing, which include:
- A miscarriage of justice. For example, a corrupt officer, judge, or anyone in the federal government.
- A criminal offense like corruption, drug dealings, or fraud.
- A severe form of discrimination or harassment like extreme racism like George Floyd’s case.
- A company is breaking the law, for example, by operating without the proper insurance, employing underage personnel, or unauthorized immigrants.
- A risk of damaging the environment or actual damage.
- A person’s safety or health is in danger. For example, if you get wind that your neighbor is not okay. For example, you suspect that they are misusing drugs, are suicidal, or their life is being threatened.
- A suspicion of illegal dealings or cover-ups.
Whistleblowing has changed over recent years. Individuals who come forward to provide information have been regarded as heroes, unlike in the past, where they were shunned and stigmatized. For example, the #metoo campaign has reawakened the world to the need for a crackdown on workplace sexual violence and harassment.
Traits of a Quality Whistleblower Lawyer
While there are laws to protect against whistleblower retaliation, it is not uncommon for a whistleblower to face some form of retaliation. Choosing the right whistleblower lawyer to represent you is one of the most essential steps in getting your case heard and to minimize the chances of retaliation.
When choosing a whistleblower lawyer, here are the qualities to look for, to get the best representation.
1. Vast Experience Representing Whistleblowers
A lawyer with vast experience in whistleblower cases is better at offering you sound advice on the legitimacy of your claim. Your lawyer should assist you in gathering evidence and any other information required for your case.
In addition, many whistleblower programs and laws exist in federal statutes and states, where each whistleblower case has different procedures and rules. Therefore, an experienced whistleblower firm can articulate your case with ease and competence.
2. Successful Track Record With Whistleblower Cases
When approaching a law firm, ask for the specifics on the type of cases they have won, like the “qui tam” whistleblower cases. It’s common to come across firms that claim success in their representation but fail to mention that they were not connected to whistleblowing cases. While there’s never a guarantee of case outcomes, a great whistleblower lawyer will have a proven track record of cases won.
3. Sufficient Resources Dedicated to Whistleblower Cases
Handling whistleblower cases can be expensive, time-consuming, and require resources. Therefore, a law firm should have another experienced and professional team of lawyers available in case the report needs the attention of more than one lawyer.
In addition, the whistleblower lawyer needs to willingly devote their time to you and give you the attention to win on your claims effectively.
4. Be Willing to Protect Your Best Interests
It takes real courage to blow the whistle on an issue. Disclosing information against an employer, a private or public institution, can have real consequences if things go wrong. Therefore, when choosing a whistleblower lawyer, it’s important to ensure that they have your best interests at heart and are willing to protect you at all costs.
A great whistleblower lawyer should treat your case with the utmost discretion and sensitivity. They should carefully listen to your case, answer your concerns, offer guidance and assistance to move forward by making you comfortable.
5. Be Quick to Take Action
Whistleblower cases are highly time-sensitive. Your lawyer should be ready to take action before the merits of the case wear down. It’s essential to get in touch with an experienced whistleblower lawyer as soon as possible. This sets you in a better position to explore all your legal options. A great lawyer will advise you on the strength of your case and the possible outcome before sharing the information with a third party.
Experienced Whistleblower Lawyers Present a Difference
MJSB Employment Justice is a legal firm that has experience in whistleblower cases in Minnesota. If you need legal representation in your whistleblower case, you can trust our team of proficient lawyers to help you get the justice you deserve. Contact us today to book a consultation.