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How do I know if I should be a whistleblower?

The decision about whether or not to blow the whistle is one of the most difficult decisions any individual makes. Most people understand the likely cost in the context of employment: they are going to be in deep trouble if they blow the whistle. If their relationships are not already poisoned with their supervisors at work, then they will be. There is a high risk of retaliation even though the law protects against it.

There's always a high risk of it because that’s human nature.

People get angry when they're either being wrongfully accused of something, there’s a misunderstanding, and especially if they're being rightfully accused of something. We've seen cases where the underlying allegations were lodged in good faith, seemed spot on, but turned out to be incorrect; there was then a successful retaliation claim because the person who was accused wrongly retaliated.

Anyone considering being a whistleblower needs to think long and hard about it. We have been proud and honored to represent some really distinguished whistleblowers who had a great deal of courage. People who faced and endured retaliation and suffered because of it; they were ultimately vindicated. It’s a long process when you bring a retaliation claim. It’s very rare that it's over just like that; it requires patience.

In our experience, besides thinking about the consequences of blowing the whistle, the whistleblowers we've represented or the people who are thinking about blowing the whistle will ultimately do what they do when they come to terms with their own conscience.

Is this the right thing to do now? If you're just doing it because you think you're going to make some money on it through litigation, please don't call us; your character is off. We don't want to talk to you and your case is always going to blow up in your face. There should be financial compensation associated with being a whistleblower and we're proud to represent people who have been compensated and are going to be compensated. It’s how we earn our living. At the end of the day you have to ask yourself what’s the right thing to do:

  • Would you be able to live with yourself?
  • Would you be able to live with your conscience?
  • Would you be able to get through this ordeal and know in your heart of hearts that you did what was right, that you stood up for yourself, protected other people, stood up for other people, stood up for what was right, for what was legal, for the rule of law, against discrimination, or against potential harm to others?

Those kinds of things are the considerations that weigh heavily in the people who eventually decide to blow the whistle.

We’ve talked to people over the years who we’ve counseled and have explained all these risks and they decide not to. But they’re few and far between. Usually by the time somebody calls, they understand that there are going to be risks. They just need to hear the specifics articulated to them, and once it has been, they need to think about it, talk to their families, engage with their consciences, maybe pray on it, and then make a decision.

Usually, that decision has been that people do the right thing and they take the risk and blow the whistle. It's been rare that we’ve had people who have not ultimately seen justice come out in their favor.

Probably the final and most important consideration for a whistleblower or someone who’s thinking about being whistleblower is, will your conscience will be clear either way? If you blow the whistle, go through the proper legal process, do everything right, and somehow justice isn't done for you. Could you live with that? Even though it would be hard? Could you live with that because you weighed more heavily on the scale the idea of doing what was right—those are our best clients. The ones who, even though they are suffering, can stay in the zone, stay focused on what’s right, because their conscience is clear and they’re ready for any result.

For more information on Becoming a Whistleblower In Ohio, and elsewhere, please call our office today at (216) 578-1700 and speak with one of our intake specialists, or fill out our online contact form.

Related Practice Areas
Whistleblower Actions (False Claims Act)

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