One of the things that some people who consider themselves whistleblowers worry about is that they may make a claim that doesn’t turn out to be true. They worry that their perception about what is happening may not be as accurate as they think and that their employers will be angered because they reported them for doing something that they didn’t.
The good news for people who make reports in good faith is that they are protected by law. The Federal Rail Safety Act (FRSA) makes it so no one can retaliate against any railroad worker who reports safety issues. Even if the issues you report turn out not to be against the law or a violation of safety regulations, you will be protected as long as you made the report in good faith.
What does it mean to make a report in good faith?
Making a report in good faith means that you truly believed that something was wrong and that you needed to report it. You must have thought that you were refusing to violate a law, for example, or that there were real safety breaches that could have harmed you or others.
There are not many times when people would try to “blow the whistle” on their employers in bad faith, but an example of doing so would be filing multiple complaints just to try to get the employer shut down or putting together false allegations to try to get out of working. In those cases, making false claims or knowingly reporting something that didn’t happen would not be protected.
If you want to become a whistleblower, do you need legal protection?
To begin with, if you’re acting in good faith, you already have the protections provided by the law. However, it isn’t a bad idea to speak with an attorney or to do research into the laws to make sure you’re taking the right steps to make your complaint legally.
If you are worried about retaliation, you may also want to work with someone who is familiar with FRSA and who can help you guard yourself against those kinds of actions.