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Four tips for potential whistleblowers

You've found shady practices at your company -- things that you think break the law or cause unfair treatment for employees that could violate federal discrimination or safety regulations. The next steps you take depend on your situation, your comfort with any leaders in the company and what you are willing to do to see any type of justice.

First, it's always a good idea to understand the reporting structure in your company. Is there someone in leadership, compliance, human resources or legal positions who you don't believe is involved in the illegal activity? Are you comfortable reporting the issues to them? If so, and they handle the issue or cause it to be handled, then that might be the end of the story.

That's not always the case, though, which means you might have to go outside of the organization to report to a government agency or law enforcement. Doing so makes you a whistleblower.

If you are considering whistleblower action, make sure you document everything carefully. Write down dates, times, people's names and specific information about the activity. Second, don't store that documentation in the control of your employer. Keep it on a flash drive on your person instead of on the company's network, for example.

Third, don't wait to report issues too long. Report information to the proper authorities, or you could risk looking like part of the issue. Finally, consider consulting with an employment lawyer who can help you understand your rights and who to report information too. Having a professional on your side can help you steer clear of issues and safeguard your personal reputation.

Source: The Huffington Post, "10 Tips Whistleblowers Need to Know to Protect Themselves," Steve Mariotti, accessed June 17, 2016

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