When whistleblowers are considering if they should take action or not, they often run into something of a dilemma. They’re just not sure what to do, and it’s a hard decision to make. The consequences in either direction can feel monumental.
This often means that people don’t speak out when they know that they should or that they delay making this report. What are some of the reasons that this feels like such a dilemma, and what do you need to know?
They’re worried about the consequences
The biggest thing that people note is that they’re afraid of the consequences. Specifically, they’re usually afraid of being fired. Say you’re working for a railroad company and you know that they’ve been cutting corners and doing things legally. They’re trying to save time and money, but they’re putting you and all of your fellow workers at risk.
On one hand, you want to speak up to keep everyone safe and to avoid injury. On the other, you feel like they’ll just fire you and replace you with someone else as soon as you say anything. Are you willing to risk your own economic well-being?
The thing to know about this is that retaliation against whistleblowers is illegal. You do have protections to allow you to speak up when you know that it’s necessary to do so.
They don’t know the law
Another common issue is that the whistleblower knows there’s a problem, but they’re not really sure what the law says. As one expert put it, “Most people who perceive that there is some wrongdoing often do not know the specific law that would apply.”
Your gut tells you that what the company is doing is illegal. But you may feel concerned about speaking up since you don’t actually know what the law is. What if you’re wrong and it actually is legal, but then they fire you because they’re worried that you’re going to do something else like this in the future?
Again, you do have legal protections, but this is also why it’s so important to understand exactly what steps you can take. It may help you to work with an experienced team that has been through cases like this in the past, especially if you’re not clear on the details.