Whistleblowing is a big step. A whistleblower is an individual who discloses certain information about an organization, usually related to malpractices. The dilemma of whether to provide information about wrongdoing or let the situation continue can be intensely stressful. Before reporting fraud actions at your place of work, you should carefully consider the potential pros and cons of whistleblowing.
Pros of whistleblowing
1. It is right to expose malpractices: Whistleblowers play a significant role in business and government. After knowing any fraudulent activity at your workplace, whistleblowing is the right thing to do. It makes violators to be held to account.
2. Helps in fighting corruption: Corruption is a significant threat to society that limits economic growth. The community needs people who are courageous enough to expose wrongdoers. Since the government cannot monitor all the wrongdoings on its own, whistleblowers come in to help protect the economy.
3. Ensures wrongdoers are not rewarded: Many workers earn and get financial benefits from other people’s hard-earned money. Whistleblowers who come up with this information ensure that people do not cheat for the sake of financial benefits. In the end, taxpayers are the ones who suffer.
4. Protection from retaliation is available: All whistleblowers are protected from retaliation under the False Claims Act. Of course, an employer cannot be on good terms with an employee who exposes their fraudulent activities. However, you can go with whistleblowing since you are sure of legal protection from retaliation.
5. You will have someone to represent your interests: The fact is most employers can even fire you. But, having someone to pay attention to your exposed fraud will make you bold enough. An experienced lawyer will ensure that the wrongdoing is evaluated and then present the case on your behalf.
6. You will have access to adequate resources: Other than having experienced lawyers, you will have combined resources of other private lawyers and prosecutors to explain your verdict. Moreover, they will help you organize your report for the prosecutor’s consideration.
7. You may get a financial reward: Sometimes, after a lawsuit investigates the exposed fraud, the government can decide to recover the funds. If all goes well and everything becomes successful, you could be rewarded up to 30% of the funds.
8. You will file the lawsuit under seal: The significant advantage of being a whistleblower is you will remain anonymous throughout the investigation process. Although the lawsuits will reveal your identity at some point, there is a considerable delay before they decide to display a whistleblower.
9. Personal gratification: The willingness to take risks to correct the wrongs is one of the most rewarding aspects of whistleblowing. Standing in the government’s shoes to patrol and expose all malpractices is a bold move. Taking such steps can be highly gratifying not only to the whistleblower but also to the public.
10. You do not pay your attorney unless you win: The extraordinary thing about whistleblowing is that you only have to incur costs for your successful case. Most whistleblower attorneys and lawyers operate on a contingency basis, meaning that you only pay after winning. Hence, it is very cheap and easy to file your case once you notice any malpractices.
Cons of whistleblowing
1. Your career can suffer: Whistleblowing can lower your chances of employment at a new place. Also, you may receive attention in the business world after your case goes viral. There is probably no manager who wants to hire someone to expose their misconduct.
2. Your allegations may not hold up: In most cases, whistleblowers have only partial visibility of ongoing fraud. They may not have enough facts and clear evidence about a potential fraud activity. Hence, there is a possibility of bringing out wrong allegations.
3. Your relationships are likely to suffer: Whistleblowers mostly stand alone. Who would want to be friends with a colleague who is likely to expose their fraud actions? You may have done the right thing, but your coworkers will likely turn their back on you, which might affect your relationships.
4. The whistleblowing process can be lengthy: It is so long that it can take several years for your allegations to succeed. Well, you may win large financial rewards in the long run, but you have to be patient enough.
5. The process may cause complications: Even though a whistleblower aims to expose malpractice, sometimes their actions can cost them. The media can dig deep into a whistleblower’s employment and social activities and expose their private life to the public. In some cases, they might be forced to hire an Attorney, which is expensive.
6. You may experience retaliation: Even though retaliation is prohibited, some employers will still go ahead to fire or demote workers who consistently expose their fraudulent actions. You can decide to sue the lawyer, but still, that can fail to work. Moreover, whistleblowing can interfere with your ability to get a job elsewhere.
7. You will have to stay silent: Since lawsuit cases are always under seal, whistleblowers must remain silent during the evaluation process. You will not have a chance to give evidence of a fraudulent activity you reported. Complications can also arise if you get involved in bankruptcy proceedings.
8. You can damage the business’s reputation: If a whistleblower’s allegations go public, it may badly affect the brand’s integrity. Plus, whistleblowing can result in fewer profits as customers will not want to buy from a firm with malpractices.
9. Whistleblowing can be costly: After reporting malpractices, some expenses can come about depending on the nature of the activity exposed. The financial impacts include; expensive court cases, fines imposed by regulators, and compensation fees.
10. You can experience stress and anxiety while reporting a case: Research has it that almost 94% of whistleblowers suffer stress-related emotional problems such as anxiety, anger, and disillusionment. From deciding to file a claim to submitting and investigation the malpractice, it is a harrowing experience.