What if My Employer Asks Me to Do Something Unethical?

If your boss asks you to do something that goes against your morals, you might not know what to do. First, stop and think about what makes you feel uneasy. Then, try to explain this to your boss. Your explanation will be especially valuable if you can cite a violation of company policy – or a violation of state or federal law.

Your employer may have missed the ethical implications of their request and revise their instructions based on your response. Even if your employer does not change their mind about what they want you to do, you will have confirmation that they want you to do something unethical even after you have spelled it out as such.

According to The New York Times, you should use plain language when talking to your boss. Try something like, “You’ve asked me to do this, but if I did this it would violate this policy we have. You’re not asking me to do that, are you?

If your boss says something like, “Yes, I am asking you to do this,” or otherwise affirms their unethical request, it’s time to escalate your complaint.

Whatever you do, do not do something illegal just because your boss asked you to do it.

Don’t Be Afraid of Retaliation

You have rights as a federal employee, including the right to report something that isn’t right. Depending on the situation or organization you work for, you can go to your employer’s Human Resources department, talk to the person one or two levels up from your boss, or file a written complaint with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC).

Federal employers are not allowed to retaliate against employees for “whistleblowing,” or reporting illegal, immoral, illicit, unsafe, or fraudulent activity at their workplace.

You Cannot Stay at a Job that Goes Against Your Moral Values

If all else fails, say no and leave. The worst thing that will happen to you is getting fired, and you cannot thrive at a job that asks you to go against your morals, anyway.

Before walking away, try to refuse one last time as an ultimatum.

Then, exit the situation and start seeking alternative employment. If you get fired or want to make sure your boss and/or company face consequences for waste, fraud, abuse, corruption, or dangers to public health and safety, contact a federal employment attorney to help you with a whistleblower complaint.

If you are struggling financially because of your decision, you can also consider filing a wrongful termination lawsuit. Federal whistleblowers may also receive a reward for acting in the public’s best interests.

Whenever federal employees face difficult decisions at work, The Law Firm of John P. Mahoney, Esq., Attorneys at Law, PLLC is here to help. John Mahoney is a recognized leader in the field, and our team has successfully represented thousands of federal employees over the last 25+ years. Many of our attorneys have been federal employees themselves, and we are dedicated to defending your rights and your career.

To learn more about what our firm can do for you, please call us at (202) 759-7780 or send us a message online today.

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