Any parent ever called upon in a squeeze to officiate at a child’s soccer or baseball game knows that it can be a thankless task. The first time you blow that whistle over an infraction, you run the risk of incurring the wrath of another parent who didn’t have the guts to step up at the first call for volunteers.
Whistleblowing becomes all that much more difficult when the stakes involve exposing suspected misspending of federal funds or misconduct of higher ups. As we noted in a post earlier this month, the fallout for workers in Texas or any other state can run the gamut from reassignment to an undesirable posting or even being fired.
Being that exposed is enough to take one’s whistling breath away. But leveraging legal protections under federal law may offer job protection and even deliver some financial compensation. It’s important to know what your rights and options are.
For example, there are varieties of avenues that targeted workers can choose to initiate a retaliation claim. Whether the action stems from an actual instance of blowing the whistle or merely from a boss’ suspicions, an employee can seek help. But which course is the right one to take?
The answer depends on the circumstances of your case, which is why consulting an attorney early in the process is recommended. That said, in the view of some government watchdog groups, the right place to start is with The U.S. Office of Special Counsel.
As one expert puts it, while some actions might warrant going straight to the Merit Systems Protection Board, going to the OSC first opens up options for appeal that don’t exist otherwise. Starting with the OSC may deliver the outcome you want. If it doesn’t, an appeal could follow.
At the very least, any potential whistleblowers owe it to themselves and those they love to face the legal and career ramifications of such action fully informed.