Working isn't always easy, especially when the environment is tense. Most people just want to do their jobs and stay out of trouble.
But what happens when something is seriously wrong? What if your employer is breaking the law, and hurting people in the process? Should you say something?
The law protects people who speak up
People who speak out against illegal activity at work are called "whistleblowers." Minnesota has strong whistleblower protection laws.
Whistleblowers can refuse to participate in illegal activities and may voluntarily report them to the proper authorities. The law also applies to employees who disclose illegal activity at the request of law enforcement.
Whistleblowers are protected against termination, retaliation and other negative employment consequences, so long as the claim is made in good faith. Employees are not protected if they know their allegations are false, or if the allegations are made in "reckless disregard for the truth."
What are some common illegal activities?
Illegal activities can qualify if they hurt the general public, a third party, other employees or even just the whistleblower him or herself. The law also includes "planned" illegal activity that hasn't occurred yet.
Some common examples include the following:
- Covering up undocumented workers
- Refusing to pay overtime
- Making employees work off the clock
- Misclassifying employees as independent contractors
- Falsifying financial statements or invoices
- Fraudulent billing to Medicare and Medicaid
- Providing healthcare that falls below state and federal standards
If something bad is happening at your job
Don't be afraid. The law is on your side. You can speak up.
If you've spoken out and faced negative consequences at work, talk to a lawyer. An attorney can help you assert your rights under the law.
If you think your employer is engaging in fraudulent activity, you may want to speak to a lawyer before making a claim. In some cases, the government will actually provide financial rewards for making a report.