Blow the whistle: How to protect yourself when exposing an employer

On behalf of Fox & Fox, S.C.

As an employee, you come across all kinds of information during your daily work. Most of this information is necessary to completing your job and is routine—perhaps even mundane.

What happens, however, if you find evidence of employer misconduct? If you have information regarding unlawful behavior by your employer, Illinois protects you under the Whistleblower Act.

Even so, it can be difficult to bring a claim against your employer for fear of retaliation or other negative consequences, which begs the question: How do you protect yourself if you blow the whistle?

One of the key provisions of the Whistleblower Act states:

“An employer may not make, adopt, or enforce any rule, regulation, or policy preventing an employee from disclosing information to a government or law enforcement agency if the employee has reasonable cause to believe that the information discloses a violation of a State or federal law, rule, or regulation.”

The statute also clearly says employers may not retaliate against a whistleblower.

While the law is on your side, you should still take precautions to ensure your case is strong and you have the proper evidence for your claim. This includes:

  • Keep documents: The more evidence you have the better. Keep anything that proves corruption or unlawful activity by your employer.
  • Don’t break the law: Exposing unlawful activities of another party is not permission to break laws yourself. It is important you follow the law as a whistleblower, which is why it is so important to work with an attorney.
  • Know your rights: Review your employment or union contract and consult state law and an attorney to fully understand your rights and whistleblower protections.

Whistleblowers serve an important role. They expose corruption, fraud and other illegal activity, which is why state law offers these protections.

Even with those protections, however, it is important you know how to protect yourself.