Do you intend to “blow the whistle” on your employer and report what you believe to be misconduct to the government? Would-be whistleblowers are usually actively encouraged by the government to stay in their positions and keep working as long as they can (so long as it is safe to do so). That approach would allow you to retain access to any evidence that might be useful to document and support your allegations and for the government’s case.
However, you want to be very careful how you go about securing corroborating documents and other evidence. Knowing how to protect yourself from retaliation and legal liability is key.
Do remove confidential information from the premises
Whether it is patient information that’s protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), your company’s trade secrets or personnel records, taking any proprietary or confidential information from the premises can give your employer a legitimate reason to fire you.
Do not access any data or documents that you shouldn’t
You can also expose yourself to civil penalties and criminal consequences if you decide to take documents (or copies of documents) that you wouldn’t normally have access to in the course of your job duties. When you’re turning someone in for breaking the law, you want to make certain that you don’t cross any legal or ethical boundaries yourself.
Do not use company machines to make copies
Everything you do on an electronic device can be traced back to you, so do not use a company copier, smartphone or computer to create or store the documents and other evidence that you gather. If you keep a journal to document important information or developments, make sure that you don’t keep it on the company laptop or access it that way.
Finally, it’s important to remember that every whistleblower’s situation is different. When you’re dealing with highly sensitive information and contemplating taking action that can have tremendous implications for the future, it’s always wise to seek tailored legal guidance before moving forward.