In New York, people have should understand that they have the right to report wrongdoing in the workplace. Those who work for or are applying for a job with the federal government might want to do the right thing and share what they have seen with the proper authorities. However, it can be a worrisome step for several reasons.
Fear of retaliation is a common concern for people who have witnessed illegal behaviors on the job. They might think that they could be in some legitimate danger if they contact the Congress, the Office of Special Council or the Inspector General regarding illegality. Before simply choosing not to ignore the behavior, it is important to be aware of the basics of whistleblowing.
Key facts about being a whistleblower
A person can become a whistleblower if they discover a law has been broken or a regulation or rule was ignored. The same is true if they find out there was gross mismanagement, gross wasting of funds, abuse of authority, the public’s health and safety are put at risk, or if research is censored in these areas.
Any employee or prospective employee – even probationary employees – can be a whistleblower if they discover wrongdoing. Whistleblowers have the right to do so confidentially. The OSC will look at the allegations and discuss the matter with the worker. If it finds that there is a likelihood that the claims are true, an investigation will commence.
Whistleblowers cannot be retaliated against. For example, if there is an allusion or outright threat that the worker’s decision to speak out will adversely impact them on the job, they can inform the OSC so they can deal with the entity that made the threat. They can also file a grievance with their union or file an appeal with the Merit Systems Perception Board. As with any form of workplace retaliation, they can receive various type of compensation if the accusations are shown to have been correct.
Whistleblowers must be protected
If a person finds that illegal activities have taken place, it is imperative that they speak out. There are shields in place that can provide whistleblower protection from negative consequences for doing the right thing. When thinking about taking this step, understanding the laws and how they serve as a protective device is key.