Federal employees often find themselves directly or indirectly managing sensitive information, documentation, or funding. When something goes awry or another government agent knowing misuses, exposes, or destroys such information, it is the duty of every other employee to let that misconduct be known. This is known as becoming a whistleblower, or starting a federal whistleblower case, and will place several federal protections over the whistleblower to shield them from unfair repercussions, like termination or workplace harassment.
However, simply notifying superiors of misconduct or violations is often not enough to ensure justice is carried out and the situation is rectified. Whistleblowers often need to help with investigations, provide testimonies, and participate in other steps of the procedure in the following weeks or months. During this time, every moment needs to be handled carefully and correctly, or the entire whistleblower case could be jeopardized.
Here are three common yet crucial mistakes whistleblowers make that must be avoided:
- Delaying taking action: The moment a federal employee uncovers or encounters an egregious violation of protocol, standards, or regulations is the same moment that employee should become a whistleblower. In some cases, a whistleblower can actually receive compensation at the end of a case that reveals and stops fiscal abuse by a government agent or politician. However, the first person who “blows the whistle” is often the only one who can collect this reward for doing the right thing. Therefore, waiting to take action could be a big mistake for more than one reason.
- Talking about the case: Perhaps needless to say, sensitive government information will make for sensitive legal cases. Whatever amount of confidentiality you were thinking about exercising while going through your whistleblower case, multiply it tenfold. Friends and family members will certainly be curious about what is going at your job but you cannot share any specific details with them without risking the legitimacy of your claims. Of course, you should also be wary whenever approached by an official about the case, as they might be fishing for some sort of statement that could undermine your efforts. The safest way to handle distributing or discussing information regarding your whistleblower claim is retaining a lawyer early on and directing any and all inquiries to him or her.
- Going it alone: Speaking of allowing your whistleblower attorney field all calls, inquiries, questions, and so forth, you should not attempt to manage your whistleblower case by yourself. The laws surrounding the average government fraud, protocol violation, or misconduct case that warrants a whistleblower’s actions will be incredibly complex and nuanced. For the average person who has not devoted their time to becoming a federal employment lawyer, it is nearly impossible to navigate the process alone and achieve the best possible results.
Your Legal Team for Federal Whistleblower Cases
A federal whistleblower case handled appropriately can benefit everyone in the country if it exposes and corrects severe violations or widespread oversights that were wasting, stealing, or misallocating taxpayer money. A whistleblower case can also reveal holes in federal legislation that will improve legal processes across the nation if addressed. The intensity and importance of a whistleblower case is simply too great to leave up to chance.
When you need legal assistance in handling your whistleblower case, you can turn to John P. Mahoney, Esq., Attorney at Law. Our Washington DC federal employment law attorneys have a strong reputation for shielding whistleblowers from retaliation and earnestly fighting the good fight for our clients. Learn more about our firm and what you should do next in your whistleblower case by contacting us at your first opportunity. Remember: when it comes to whistleblower cases, there is no time to lose.