Protected or unlawful: The whistleblowing line can be “blurry”

| Dec 23, 2020 | Whistleblower Protection

Following is a scenario that plays out in very real-world terms for select federal employees working in myriad agencies and departments.

To wit: You’re a federal worker who has learned that managers at your workplace are breaking laws that harm the public interest. You are duly alarmed and want to take meaningful remedial action, but you reasonably fear the consequences of doing so.

And you’re not quite sure concerning how to proceed. Should you use internal company channels to report abuse/fraud or other unlawful behavior? Should you go to the press? Should you first secure written documentation of malfeasance? Should you reasonably fear that taking action will jeopardize your job and career?

Those and many other questions logically surface for federal whistleblowers.

We note at the Devadoss Law Firm the dilemma posed for those individuals, who are arguably selfless heroes for spotlighting illegal company acts that fleece and otherwise injure the public. And we highlight on the website of our nationally proven employment legal offices the hard challenge they sometimes find.

On the one hand, federal workers aware of wrongdoing and seeking to report it have strong backing provided by a multitude of federal and state whistleblowing protections. On the other hand, though, and notwithstanding such safeguards, they are often “discriminated against, given undesirable reassignments, or otherwise retaliated against for blowing the whistle.”

An initial question relevant to whistleblowing activity is whether it is protected in the first place or, conversely, might ultimately be deemed as unlawful employee behavior.

There can be a fair degree of murkiness surrounding that analysis in a given case. We will delve into some relevant considerations in our next blog entry.