Recently, Frances Haugen came out and exposed some hidden business practices of her former, Facebook. The data scientist alleges that Facebook lied about the efforts it takes to stop false information, that it holds a high value of young users, and other claims as well.
Ms. Haugen’s expose made headlines around the world, but her actions also beg the question: “what kind of consequences will she face?” For employees across the country and Europe who are considering reporting their employer for unethical practices or other violations, it is important to know the consequences of whistleblowing.
What are the legal consequences of whistleblowing?
Whistleblowers have legal rights in our country that protect them from workplace retaliation for reporting violations. This means that an employer cannot legally act against someone by reducing their hours, denying them a promotion, forcing them to over-work, or taking any other retaliatory action because an employee reported a legal violation. There are, however, some exceptions to the law.
While the law protects employees from retaliation, a clause in the employee’s contract may prompt response in certain situations. If an employee violates a confidentiality agreement or releases trade secrets, the employer could sue for those actions. Additionally, Ms. Haugen can face incidental consequences, like other companies choosing not to hire her because of her history of exposing workplace violations.
Are you considering reporting your employer?
If you are thinking about reporting a workplace violation like wage theft or other employee rights violation, consult with an employee rights attorney. They can advise of your situation, your rights, and what you can do to report your employer safely. You should never be afraid of reporting serious violations, regardless of how big your employer is.