With more employees working remotely than ever before, workers are enjoying the benefits of staying at home. No commute. No dry-cleaning. No getting roped into small talk with Chatty Cathy the next cube over.

Another benefit? Greater freedom to speak up about wrongdoing.

Without the threat of a boss or coworker looking over their shoulders, employees are increasingly blowing the whistle on illegal and unethical misconduct. In fact, between March and May, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) fielded 35% more whistleblower complaints than last year.

What to know about blowing the whistle

If you’re aware of illegal or unethical misconduct at work, don’t stay silent. You may be in a unique position to not only right a wrong, but also set a precedent that holds employers accountable. Successful claims can also result in significant compensation for the whistleblower.

Won’t I lose my job?

Of course, during these tough economic times, nobody wants to risk a demotion – or worse, termination – by rocking the boat. Fortunately, the law is on the side of whistleblowers. Employers can’t retaliate against you for reporting misconduct. Even if your whistleblower claim is unsuccessful, so long as you acted in good faith, you’re protected from retaliation.

The first step

Once you’ve made the admirable decision to speak up, the first step is understanding how to go about it. The answer depends on many factors:

  • The nature of the misconduct
  • What kinds of industry regulations are at play
  • Whether your company provides an internal whistleblowing process (and whether it makes sense to go that route)
  • Whether state or federal agencies provide a path for whistleblowing

In many cases, it may be possible to proceed anonymously. Consult with an employment attorney to discuss how to blow the whistle in the least risky and most effective manner.