You caught your California employer doing something illegal. Now what?

You were already suspicious that your employer was committing some kind of fraud. Now, you’re sure of it — and you’re ready to blow the whistle.

Before you take another step, however, there are three things you need to know:

  1. Whistleblower rights are not universal.

There are a patchwork of laws designed to protect whistleblowers from retaliation, discrimination, harassment and other issues — but they vary. Federal law has certain rules that apply to some whistleblowers, and this state has The California Whistleblower Protection Act. Other whistleblower acts, like the False Claims Act, the Dodd-Frank Act and more may apply to your situation.

Do not assume that you understand your protections and rights until you’ve spoken with an experienced advocate. Remember: Knowledge is power, especially in this kind of situation.

  1. Never break the law to obtain any evidence.

You may be eager to prove what you know — but remember: You need to be above blame, yourself. Don’t access any computers that aren’t yours. Don’t take any company files you aren’t entitled to take.

Again, this is where working with an attorney can be beneficial. Before you make a move, you should discuss the legality of your proposed actions.

  1. Think hard before you report the fraud internally.

You may not have to expose your identity to your boss in order to blow the whistle. Preserving your anonymity can also preserve your job, your career and your peace of mind.

It’s wiser to wait until you know what protections you have and what channels exist for you to make a report before you decide who to trust.

If you want to blow the whistle on your employer’s fraud, that’s admirable. Now, take the first step toward protecting your future by speaking with a legal advocate who understands your options.