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Empowering whistleblowers: Three steps to better ensure protection against retaliation

On Behalf of | May 23, 2024 | Whistleblower Protection

Whistleblowers play an important role in maintaining transparency and accountability within federal agencies. Yet many fear the threat of potential retaliation if they were to step forward and voice their concerns or provide evidence of wrongdoing within their agency. If you are part of this group, know you are not alone. A recent study found that more than 80% of those within the financial industry who witnessed or suspected financial crimes happening within their organization have chosen to remain silent out of fear of retaliation.

The findings support a change to help better ensure those who see something, say something. Researchers behind the study also note that almost 50% agreed with a change to increase whistleblower protections. A separate poll had similar findings, with 81% of likely voters stating they would agree that Congress should put together stronger laws that protect employees who face retaliation after blowing the whistle.

Although the results of the study are concerning, it is important to note that protections are available for those brave few who step forward with this information. If you are part of this group, you can come forward. Legal tools are available to fight back if calling out wrongdoing results in illegal retaliation. Three steps that can help to better ensure that these protections work in your favor include the following.

#1: Report wisely

The first step is to gather the information you need to move forward with the report. When you suspect wrongdoing, start documenting relevant details immediately. Keep records of incidents, conversations, dates, and any evidence you come across. This documentation will be helpful in the event you face retaliation.

The reporting process generally begins by reporting the issue internally. Follow your agency’s established procedures. This demonstrates that you acted in good faith and allows the agency to address the problem promptly.

#2: Learn about your rights

Educate yourself about whistleblower protections. Understand the laws that safeguard you, such as the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA). These laws prohibit retaliation against federal employees who report misconduct.

#3: Fight back if the victim of retaliation

The laws that protect those who are the victims of illegal retaliation are only helpful if victims use them. Do not allow illegal retaliation to continue. When federal employees face retaliation after blowing the whistle on wrongdoing within a federal agency, they have legal options to protect themselves. Remedies available through use of these legal tools can include:

  • Back pay: Compensation is available to cover the cost of illegal termination as a result of whistleblowing. This compensation covers lost wages and benefits.
  • Reinstatement: Whistleblowers can pursue reinstatement to their previous position.
  • Reversal of negative actions: Remedies can also include a reversal of any suspension or other adverse action.

It is wise for those who find themselves in this situation to seek legal counsel. An attorney experienced in this niche area of law can guide you through the process and help you assert your rights.


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