Whistleblowers play a vital role in exposing corruption and wrongdoing in both the public and private sectors. However, speaking out against powerful institutions and individuals can be risky, and whistleblowers often face retaliation as a result. In Washington state, there are laws in place to protect whistleblowers, but it is still important to take steps to safeguard yourself. In this blog post, we will discuss how to protect yourself from retaliation as a whistleblower in Washington.
Understand your rights
The Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD) provides protection for whistleblowers in the workplace. Under WLAD, an employer cannot retaliate against an employee for reporting illegal activity or for refusing to engage in illegal activity. Additionally, Washington state law allows whistleblowers to sue their employers for damages if they have been retaliated against.
It is essential to keep detailed records of any actions taken against you as a result of your whistleblowing. This includes emails, texts, phone calls, and any other communication you receive that might be relevant. Having a record of these actions will help you if you need to take legal action against your employer.
Speak to an attorney
If you are considering blowing the whistle on illegal activity, it is a good idea to speak with an attorney beforehand. An attorney can help you understand your legal rights and obligations and can advise you on how best to proceed. If you have already blown the whistle and are facing retaliation, an attorney can help you navigate the legal process and protect your rights.
Retaliation can take many forms, including demotions, layoffs, or even physical harm. It is essential to stay vigilant and aware of any changes in your work environment. If you feel that you are being retaliated against, speak to your attorney immediately.
Keep your whistleblower status confidential
While it may be tempting to share your whistleblower status with colleagues, it is important to keep it confidential. The more people who know about your whistleblowing, the greater the risk of retaliation. If you need to discuss your situation with someone, speak to your attorney or a trusted friend or family member.
Consider reporting anonymously
If you are concerned about retaliation, you may want to consider reporting anonymously. Many organizations have hotlines or reporting systems that allow you to report wrongdoing without revealing your identity. While anonymous reporting can be helpful in some situations, it may not always be the best option. Make sure you understand the risks and benefits before choosing to report anonymously.
Join a whistleblower support group
Joining a whistleblower support group can provide you with a network of people who have gone through similar experiences. These groups can offer emotional support, advice, and resources to help you navigate the challenges of being a whistleblower. Additionally, these groups can help raise awareness of the issues you are raising, which can help protect you from retaliation.
Stay informed about the laws and regulations related to whistleblowing in Washington state. Keep up-to-date on any changes to the laws that may affect your rights as a whistleblower. Additionally, stay informed about the issues you are reporting on. The more knowledgeable you are about the issues, the better equipped you will be to defend yourself against retaliation.
Take care of yourself
Whistleblowing can be a stressful and emotionally taxing experience. It is important to take care of yourself during this time. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, eating well, and taking time for self-care. Reach out to friends and family for support and consider talking to a therapist if you are struggling.
Whistleblowers face significant risks, including retaliation, when they speak out against corruption and wrongdoing. However, by taking the steps outlined above, you can protect yourself and your rights as a whistleblower in Washington state. Remember to understand your rights, document everything, speak to an attorney, stay vigilant, keep your whistleblower status confidential, consider reporting anonymously, join a whistleblower support group, stay informed, and take care of yourself. By doing so, you can help hold institutions accountable and protect yourself from retaliation.
As a law firm based in Washington, we at Paukert & Troppmann, PLLC understand the risks and challenges that whistleblowers face when reporting illegal activity in the workplace. We are committed to helping whistleblowers protect their rights and interests and can provide legal representation, advice, and counseling to those facing retaliation.
We can assist whistleblowers in gathering evidence and documenting any actions taken against them as a result of their whistleblowing. Our attorneys can negotiate fair settlements with employers, and we can represent whistleblowers in legal proceedings related to retaliation.
We are well-versed in the whistleblower protection laws in Washington and can help whistleblowers understand their legal rights and obligations. We can advise on the best course of action to take and can provide the support and guidance whistleblowers need to protect themselves from retaliation.
At Paukert & Troppmann, PLLC, we are dedicated to helping whistleblowers navigate the legal system and hold employers accountable for their illegal activities. We believe that whistleblowers play an essential role in promoting integrity and accountability in the workplace, and we are committed to protecting their rights and interests.