The workplace can be a very busy and complex place. Employees take on many tasks, and get acquainted with co-workers, supervisors and the interworking of the business. Thus, when an employee sees something going on that isn't right, they may seek to speak up about it. However, they may also be hesitant about saying or doing something as it could compromise his or her job, as employment law matters can be challenging to take on.
When an employee observes a violation and reports it, this is known as whistleblowing. The type of violation reported could range greatly, and it could include sexual harassment, violating state or federal regulations or unlawful business practices. Because an employee is putting his or her employer on the spot with regards to doing something wrong, many things could hold an employee back from blowing the whistle.
The major issue is retaliation. An employee is fearful that they will be fired or retaliated against for reporting a violation. Thus, there are laws designed to specifically protect whistleblowers. And in order to enjoy these protections, a whistleblower must have a good faith belief that his or her employer is violating the law. Additionally, the employee must complain about this violation to the employer or to a federal agency.
Being a whistleblower is no easy task to take on. However, it is a protected act and one that employees can do. Thus, it is important to understand what it means to be a whistleblower and what protections have been put in place. This information could also help one take action if retaliation occurs one blows the whistle.