The legitimacy of a whistleblower’s claim is often in the eyes of the beholder. One need look no further than the whistleblower who sounded the alarm about President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine to see that one person’s hero is another person’s traitor. Even when it doesn’t involve POTUS, those who go public with information can encounter scrutiny. This impacts their ability to work and maintain a job, but loved ones may also get caught in the crossfire. With this in mind, those who undertake these acts of conscience should look at their reasons for doing it.
5 questions to ask yourself
These address some of the significant challenges a whistleblower will face:
- Is it okay if people find out it’s me? Sometimes whistleblowers can remain anonymous, but not always including when you plan to collect a reward in a qui tam lawsuit. Even if people aren’t supposed to know, they may find out anyway.
- Did I share my findings with the company before going to the government? It lends credibility to try addressing the matter before turning to the authorities or others outside the company (such as the media). If the company ignores the alarm or tries to cover it up, whistleblowers can act with a clearer conscience.
- Is there a reward? The information needs to be regarded as valuable if there is a reward. Also, you may be ineligible if you were convicted of similar crimes, ineligible because of your job description or did not follow the correct protocols for reporting violations or unlawful acts.
- Do I have the resources I need to do it? Reporting an issue does not always lead to a quick reward. The whistleblower’s info may also be shared with other agencies like the FBI, which can take time. Moreover, it is wise to bring in an attorney, which may cost more money.
- Can I live with it? The whistleblower may not know or understand how the case will unfold, which could include scrutiny in other parts of the business. Whistleblowers need to be ready for any outcome as well as the ramifications of an investigation.
Attorneys can help determine likely outcomes
It is often helpful to discuss these questions with an attorney who works with whistleblowers. These legal professionals can provide insight that enables clients to understand and prepare for what is a complicated and arduous process.