A whistleblower is any person, or group of persons, who take it upon themselves to raise an alert about possible wrongdoing. The term comes from the practices of early policemen, who sound their whistles to alert the general public of a coming danger or a crime in progress. Today, these instances could take place in any number of industries, but often occurs within the workplace. In almost all cases, the whistleblower is a member of, or at least a person with a vested interest in, the organization being informed on.
The alleged wrongdoing can be any number of things, to include violations of internal policies as well as local and federal laws. These things may be indicators of a culture of fraud or corruption within the organization, but the alleged wrongdoing is almost always a standalone threat to public interest or society in general. In many cases, whistleblowers may make their allegations internally, by using the organization’s established procedures, but in some cases where a person fears retribution they might go directly to the media or law enforcement.
Internal whistleblowers, with first-hand knowledge of violations as a member of their organization, are often put under pressure when they attempt to report these violations. The fear of reprisal or punishment for not keeping quiet about possible misconduct makes many people, especially career employees, hesitant to speak up, even when complete confidentiality is assured.
These factors contribute greatly to the rationale of many external whistleblowers, who report their suspicions to the media, law enforcement, or a lawyer. The important thing to remember is that under most state and federal laws, the whistleblower can be offered legal protection, as well as monetary compensation for stepping forward and doing the right thing.
Whistleblowers play an important role in overseeing the business practices of companies and organizations. If you’ve observed questionable practices within your organization, there are two major factors to understand. First that you qualify for protection under both local and federal laws. A qualified attorney will be able to explain these practices to you. Second, you should also know that you may be entitled to compensation. Whistleblowers save the government billions of dollars every year, and up to 25 percent of the amount saved can be awarded as compensation.
For these reasons, you should never hesitate before contacting a qualified attorney. In most instances, a lawyer can handle all aspects of the case, without ever requiring your presence at trial.