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Will my reputation suffer as a whistleblower?

A person who reveals troubling practices at their place or work, without regard for their own well-being, should be hailed as a hero. Sadly, this is not always the case. If a whistleblower at an organization isn't explicitly retaliated against, they're often subject to damaging accusations that can tarnish their reputation. Forbes explains why it's the duty of employers to create a culture where whistleblowers aren't unfairly targeted for their good deeds. 

One report illustrated the risks whistleblowers take when speaking up. The group of 25 workers studied for the report cited many troubling developments after speaking up. In some cases, the employee was pressured to resign. When workers stayed in their positions, they were privy to harassment, including bullying behaviors or isolation. This led to serious mental health issues, which affected workers both in the workplace as well as outside it. 

One solution to this is for employers to provide a number of methods to submit information about wrongdoing in an organization. If a worker feels uncomfortable broaching a subject face-to-face, they should be able to report via online channels or by phone. The person fielding these claims should be independent so they can make a reasonable determination about what is being stated. They should also hold a position of authority, so their decisions carry some weight in the organization. 

It's also advised to have a written policy in the employee handbook on how reports can be made, as well as protections for whistleblowers. These written policies should be communicated to the staff. It's thought that this will create a positive culture within a workplace that honors people who speak up, as opposed to tarnishing their reputations. In the event organizations fail to take the proper steps and employees are still subject to blowback, workers may consider speaking with an attorney to determine their legal options. 

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Bernabei & Kabat, PLLC
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