When someone provides you with the money you need to pay for food, shelter and your bills, you may feel some sense of loyalty or dependence. That's how you may feel about your employer - necessary to your livelihood.
Whether you like your job or not, you need it. And if you really do like your job, that might make the situation even more complicated. If you suspect that your employer is doing something illegal, it can sometimes seem easier to simply ignore it or at convince yourself it's not really happening.
No one ever said that doing the right thing was easy but they also never said just how hard it really is. Even if the issue seems minor, it's important to take action when you know your employer is doing something that is against the law.
Reasons people don't speak up
There are many reasons why people might hesitate when deciding if they should speak up, from fear of retaliation to derogatory connotations to thinking it's not that big of a deal.
The term "whistleblower" can feel like a negative word, similar to "tattletale" or "nark." Or it may seem that the harm the company is inflicting isn't such a big deal. Shorting people a few dollars here and there, intentionally or not - how bad could it really be?
It adds up
A large gym franchise based locally here in Minnesota was recently found in violation of minimum wage laws and has to pay nearly $1 million in liquidated damages and back pay. This all stemmed from the company deducting the cost of uniforms from their employees' pay, which then meant the employees were technically being paid less than federal minimum wage laws require.
It would have been easy for a single employee to realize the mistake and think, well, it's not that big of a deal. But it can add up to thousands of dollars, or hundreds of thousands of dollars in this case, depending on the size of the company and the number of employees affected. It might seem like a lot initially, but it's probably affecting more people than you can even imagine.
Doing what's right is easier with support
Speaking up for what's right can be easier said than done, especially when you are afraid of losing your job. But it's illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for speaking up. If they have done so, you can speak with an experienced employment law attorney who can go over your options.
You shouldn't have to worry about the repercussions of doing what's right.