How to Support Yourself if You Chose to Be a Whistleblower

Whistleblowers help to elevate humankind. They speak out against illegal activities, fraud, waste, prohibited personnel practices in the government, and about ethical matters. They are the brave souls and voices who speak up about wrong-doing or lack of action on matters. They also can pay a very high price for speaking up. I interviewed Erin Brockovich in April 2018 on my podcast and we discussed whistleblowing in our interview. Whistleblowers deserve support and protection. Credible whistleblowers should not be labeled as anything, but honest people trying to help others.

I recently wrote an article about whistleblowing and that I would do it again because standing up for myself and others is a big part of my character. Others also believe that they should be exposing matters that need to be investigated. For the person who wants to speak up as a whistleblower, I will share five strategies that helped me.

First, before you speak up about something—have a team of supporters. Depending on the severity of the matter, the perpetrators don’t want to get caught. They may fire you, defame you, or make your job a living hell. It is wise to seek legal counsel, talk to your HR department and get them involved. I wrote an article on the reason why you go to HR for help.  There is a reason you go to HR—documenting the trail of asking for help and that you may also receive help.

Second, many companies and organizations think that they will get away with retaliating against a whistleblower. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) states that retaliation is the most frequently alleged basis of discrimination in the federal sector and the most common discrimination finding in federal sector cases according to the EEOC. Retaliation happens in many jobs when someone is brave enough to speak up. Record all the evidence—emails, pictures, notes, etc. Provide your evidence to your attorney, EEOC case manager, etc. If you don’t have evidence of retaliation—you will have a hard time proving you were retaliated against for speaking out. Employment/Labor attorney can guide you with legal counsel on harassment discrimination and retaliation matters. They are one of the most qualified experts to support whistleblowers.

Third, it’s very common for someone being retaliated against to become anxious, depressed, and have other medical symptoms. Only a medical doctor can diagnose you and write up medical records that tie into you retaliation matter. Unfortunately, the acupuncturist, massage therapist, etc. can’t provide a medical diagnosis. There are all kinds of modalities that can reduce stress and support your well-being—but, they are supplemental when you need a diagnosis on your health matters.

Fourth, talking to a Priest, Rabbi or Spiritual advisor, etc. can be a good way to express your feelings of betrayal and distrust of your bullies, however, they cannot diagnose your mental health issues—only a qualified mental health professional can diagnose you. Seek help with professionals. Don’t ask Susie next door or the Facebook group you are in to give you advice. They may offer you emotional support, but you may need a professional mental health expert to provide you with the support that they can give—medication, time off letters, Reasonable Accommodation requests etc. to support your mental health condition.

Fifth, it may wise to give copies of your evidence or documentation to other trusted people. Depending on the severity of the whistleblowing matter—perpetrators have gone to extremes of phone tapping and breaking into people’s homes. Always keep a backup copy in a safe location and keep your phone calls discussing your matter to a minimum. You never know who is listening in to your conversation. Bonus for government whistleblowers: You can have an attorney write your phone company or you can do it yourself, and ask if there is a federal warrant to allow your agency to listen in to your home or cell phone conversations. On the private and public sector side—there are all kinds of devices that anyone can purchase off the internet so someone can listen in on your calls.

The best advice is to be safe and surround yourself with a great support team. For more articles on workplace issues, I invite you to check out:

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