Am I a Whistleblower?

This week, employment attorney and partner at The Noble Law, Katie Abernethy, addresses the frequently asked question, “am I a whistleblower?” The term “whistleblower” refers to an individual who has observed or has been asked to participate in inappropriate, fraudulent, or illegal activity by their employer. However, knowing of these activities is not enough to receive legal protections from potential employer retaliation. To access anti-retaliation laws, an employee must engage in protected activity. Most anti-retaliation laws require that a whistleblower takes one of the following three actions:

  • Reporting the crime or fraud to a state or federal agency
  • Reporting the crime or fraud to the correct point of contact inside the company
  • Taking action to oppose or prevent violation of the law

Merely being aware of criminal or fraudulent behavior in your workplace, does not entitle you to whistleblower protections. Moreover, even if your employer knows that you are aware of their criminal or fraudulent behavior in the workplace, you still may not qualify as a whistleblower. In order to gain anti-retaliation protections, you must participate in protected activity and possess adequate proof of doing so.

How to Engage in Protected Activity

If you plan to engage in protected activity, or are in the process of doing so, it is important that you take precautions against potential employer misconduct. Employers often deny receiving whistleblower complaints, particularly when given orally. Because of this, it is in your best interest as a whistleblower to do the following:

  • Make your report in writing and retain a personal copy
  • Send your report via personal email
  • Print and save any communications made via company email or messaging platform
  • Seek legal counsel

In the case that you are wrongfully terminated by your employer in retaliation to your report, you may lose access to any communication made through company email or messaging platforms. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you file reports through a personal email account and retain records of any conversations made over company platforms.

If you believe that taking action as a whistleblower will result in your employer retaliating against you, seek legal counsel to ensure that you are taking all of the necessary steps to receive the protection of federal and state anti-retaliation laws.

Are You a Whistleblower in Need of an Attorney?

If you have witnessed illegal or fraudulent activity in your workplace and would like to take action as a whistleblower, contact our employment attorneys at The Noble Law. We provide consultations remotely through videoconferencing in North Carolina and South Carolina.

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