As an employee, you might not feel like you have a lot of power in the workplace. That’s why it’s so hard to know what to do if you realise that your employer is breaking the law. Here are some tips on what to do next, and how to take action without leaving yourself open to damage.
Blow the whistle
The first thing you should know is that you absolutely need to blow the whistle on any illegal activity. If you are aware of it, and you don’t do anything, you could be considered an accessory to the crime when it eventually becomes exposed. You need to be the person that goes to the police or another authority in order to protect yourself. Any loyalty you may feel to your employer would not be reciprocated if they got caught.
Of course, this doesn’t include times when crimes are being perpetrated against you. However, when it is committed against you – such as when you are discriminated against in the workplace, or unfairly dismissed – it is even more important that you flag up the incident in order to get justice for yourself. There are already existing channels for reporting unfair dismissal and similar incidents, so you can easily start the claim. In many cases, you may even find that your employer is happy to settle the incident without going to legal procedings.
Protect yourself from legal damage
Make sure that you talk to a lawyer about how to protect yourself before you make any kind of report. You will want to ensure that you are exempt from prosecution, particularly since some immunity from prosecution policies have come under the magnifying glass in recent years. First, you need to find out whether there is any chance that you could be implicated in the crime. Next, see about making a deal which will ensure you don’t suffer any consequences from blowing the whistle. This will be more important if you find out that you have unwittingly carried out illegal actions for your employer or aided them in committing or covering up a crime. It will be even more important if you deliberately took part, and your lawyer may need to help you out with avoiding charges in this case.
Stay strong at work
No matter what you blow the whistle on – whether it’s illegal business activity, fraud, or discrimination against yourself – you should be safe to continue working at the same company. There have been cases of people who successfully sued after being treated unfairly at work as a result of whistle blowing. Your job should be protected, as no employer can dismiss you simply because you have reported illegal activity. They may put you on paid leave, but they cannot fire you. It may be difficult for you to return to work after reporting your employer, but stay strong. If you quit you won’t be able to receive anything. If you stay, you are more likely to be given a financial severance package or to see normality restored.
Crime is always a serious issue, so you should always report it. It’s never a good idea to go along with a crime, as you will put yourself into legal trouble when it is eventually uncovered. Don’t be afraid to blow the whistle just because it is your employer who is at fault – or because you want to protect your reputation. The full force of the law will protect you so long as you are in the right. When it comes down to it, you don’t want to be in the wrong.
Lucy Taylor is an avid blogger who enjoys sharing her tips and suggestions with her online readers. Working as a legal expert at LY Lawyers, Lucy often helps people dealing with legal problems, addictions and crime.