Sometimes whistleblowing involves alerting executives or management to the misconduct of a few people within the company. Other times, the misconduct is so widespread or well-known that whistleblowers realize the only option is to reach out to a regulatory agency.
A whistleblower whose claims will initiate a government investigation will typically need evidence to support the allegations they make against their employer. The right evidence not only helps validate someone’s concerns about a company’s practices, but it can protect the whistleblower from retaliation or help them prove that they lost their job or faced other employment-related consequences because of their decision to report the company’s bad behavior.
How can whistleblowers prove what their employers have done and why they feel compelled to report the issue?
They may keep written records
Certain kinds of regulatory rule-breaking at a company occur without leaving a paper trail. Managers or other staff members knowingly violating labor or consumer safety laws will typically try to prevent any official company records from reflecting that misconduct. You may not be able to make video or audio recordings because of California’s privacy laws.
Workers who hope to serve as whistleblowers in such scenarios often need to document individual incidents in writing. Keeping your own records in a pocket notebook or on a digital device that belongs to you and is not subject to monitoring by your employer can be an important form of evidence.
They may copy or keep certain official paperwork
Maybe a supervisor sends out an email explaining the exact misconduct that someone hopes to report. Perhaps there are transactions in the company checking accounts that validate your claims. Workers may need to consult with an attorney to protect themselves if they need to gather or obtain copies of internal records to ensure that they do not violate the law or otherwise put themselves in a dangerous position.
In theory, you have the right to secure evidence that conclusively shows illegal activity or regulation breaking. The more records you have affirming your claims of company misconduct, the easier it will be for you to convince regulators to look into the situation and to prove that you experienced retaliation if your employer punishes you for reporting the issue.
Gathering adequate evidence to validate your decision to speak up about company misconduct is often an important step for someone who intends to act as a whistleblower.