Your sense of right and wrong affects not just what you do in your personal life but also your professional activities. You may have even gone into a certain career because of your personal beliefs or moral code.
When you notice that your employer has done something not just unethical but likely illegal, you may feel compelled to speak up about it. Once you become a whistleblower, you have protection against retaliation by your employer. You should not lose your job, get transferred to a different department or face a demotion because you acted as a whistleblower.
There are two different behaviors that could make you eligible for whistleblower protection.
When you refuse to do something illegal
Employers often demand that workers do things that compromise their personal ethics, but they cannot demand that you do something that violates local, state or federal laws.
You can refuse to perform a job function or deny a direct order from a supervisor that would force you to break the law. If you do, your actions are technically whistleblowing and therefore protected.
When you report your employer
If your employer has engaged in inappropriate behavior and has ignored your internal report or punished other people for addressing the issue, you may feel like you have no choice but to involve regulatory agencies. When you make a report to state or federal authorities, you become a whistleblower with all of the employment protections that status entails.
Keeping thorough written records of your actions immediately before and after you become a whistleblower could help you hold your employer accountable if they retaliate against you in violation of the law.