Did you know the new law allows for whistleblowers to get as much as 30 percent of penalties collected if they total at least $1 million? Wow.
Lawyers are lining up and will no doubt broadcast polished ad campaigns encouraging employees to blow the whistle if they suspect violations. The Dodd-Frank law may be headed for repeal if the Republicans get the White House, but for now, put your flak jackets on business leaders!
What does this provision mean for business people? Do things right and right away.
Obviously, you need to become familiar with the law and be in compliance. When and if your employees raise a problem, you should establish an environment where they feel comfortable and obliged to come to you first. Work with them; do not marginalize them or dismiss their concerns. The only reason they would have to go outside—become a whistleblower—is if they cannot trust or communicate with you. Be aware—even if you do these things, you could still be in for an unpleasant ride.
I have a client that had an employee who “turned the company in” to OSHA for a safety concern. The company endured the examination and was exonerated. The next year this same employee “turned the company in” to the Department of Labor on a Prevailing Wage beef. Again, the company endured an examination of the allegation and was exonerated. This employee figured he had whistleblower protection status and continued to poison the relationship between the employees and management. He didn’t. I extricated him, but obviously it was a very delicate situation.
Getting back to this provision in the new law, there is a “jackpot” mentality in our culture. This means that many people see the lottery and the opportunity to sue somebody (with money) is the way to wealth accumulation. This law plays right into this mentality. The plaintiff’s lawyers are gearing up.
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