Most of the time, the boss is keeping an eye on the employees. But what happens when an employee sees something amiss? An employee who reports illegal activity at work may be protected in the long run, but that won't save your job immediately.
First, you need to be sure that you have all the facts in the situation you observed. Figure out if what your employer is doing is actually a crime, or just against company policy. Are they breaking Federal or state law? Are people's lives or other employees' safety at risk? How big is your employer? Certain regulations may only apply to larger employers. Keep good records of dates, times, and anything discussed in any meetings you have with supervisors or company officials, as well as the original infraction, when and where it occurred and who was involved.
If you are sure your employer is violating industry regulations, Federal or state laws, the first thing you should do is talk to your immediate supervisor. If your supervisor is the one who is suspect, then go up the chain of command and try to get someone to investigate your claim. Many companies have anonymous tip lines where employees can report violations of the law or even company policy anonymously. If the company does not act, then contact the government or state agency that would be in charge of investigating the violation. They generally will not tell your employer what caused the investigation.
Even though West Virginia is an at-will employment state-meaning that employees can generally be fired at any time for any reason that is not discriminatory-it does recognize a common law exception, and that includes whistleblowing activities. Employees who are fired for whistleblowing activities may sue for wrongful termination within two years of being terminated.
If you have been the target of workplace harassment, discrimination or unfair termination, Bouchillon, Crossan & Colburn, L.C. represents clients in federal court and before the EEOC, MSPB and in state and union grievance hearings.
Our attorneys have more than 35 years dedicated to giving clients the attention, advice, support and empowerment they need to effectively meet their goals. We are committed to the principle that all persons shall have equal justice under the law. Call Bouchillon, Crossan & Colburn, L.C. at 304.523.8451 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.