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What is whistleblowing in the workplace?

On Behalf of | Mar 7, 2023 | Employment Law For Employees |

Discovering that your employer is doing something illegal or unethical in the workplace can put you in a tough position. On the one hand, you would want to report the activity but on the other, you fear that you will lose your job if you do so. Fortunately, Illinois laws protect employees or other concerned individuals who make whistleblower claims against their employers.

What is it?

Whistleblowing in the workplace is when an employee reports their suspicions of or actual illegal conduct of their employer to the internal or external agencies.

The act of whistleblowing has two types depending on where an employee chooses to report the information they have. It could be either of the two:

  • Internal – Employees can make a report within their organization, whether to their direct manager or Human Resources.
  • External – If reporting internally is not the best option, the employee can report the misconduct to the Labor Commissioner’s Office, the state agency responsible for investigating labor law violations. Some people choose to release the information publicly, such as to the media or social media channels.

What activities can I report?

Even if an employee knows what to do if they suspect their employer of engaging in illegal activities, they might have second thoughts about what actions they may report. Some of the illegal employer conduct employees can report includes:

  • Unequal pay and unlawful pay practices
  • Unsafe workplace conditions
  • Manager or co-worker harassment or discrimination
  • Corruption
  • Law violation and other crimes

It is good to note that whistleblowing is different from raising a workplace grievance since the latter is a matter of personal interest, while whistleblowing usually involves more employees, other organizations or the state.

All employees want to work for an employer who conducts its business lawfully. However, there are still companies that engage in unlawful activities. Employees can be more confident stepping forward knowing that they can report illegal conduct while the law protects them.