If you know or suspect that you or your company has been the subject of a whistleblowing complaint or investigation, there are certain steps you should consider and certain legal obligations with which you must comply.
- Do not retaliate: Employers may not retaliate against whistleblowers or suspected whistleblowers for considering, instituting, pursuing, or assisting in a whistleblower action. This includes not only termination and physical harm but also demoting the employee or cutting hours or work assignments, threatening harm, threatening with regard to immigration/citizenship issues, threatening baseless legal action, or pressuring the employee to drop the action. Certain whistleblowing laws also prohibit retaliation that consists of “blacklisting” an employee in the industry.
- Maintain relevant records: Many of the types of records that are relevant to whistleblower actions are required by law to be kept for a certain period of time. Once a lawsuit is initiated, you must save all documents you have that concern any of the issues in the action.
- Consider mitigating measures: Cooperating with government whistleblowing investigations, self-reporting and instituting robust internal whistleblowing procedures may convince government officials investigating your company that you take whistleblowing issues seriously and will work with the government to resolve any problems. An attorney can help you fashion sensible mitigating measures that are good for employees and good for business.
- Contact an attorney: If you or your company is the subject of a whistleblower action, immediately contact an attorney experienced in whistleblower law, who will explain your options for how to proceed.