A whistleblower reporting form is used to report improper government actions by an employer or other employees. It’s commonly used by employees to report violations of regional laws that they witness at the workplace, and many jurisdictions have laws like the Whistleblower Protection Act to protect them. The form is often not used to report violations for which there are other remedies available and beyond the scope of whistleblower laws. For example, an employee couldn’t use a form to report employer discrimination or harassment. Those issues are often addressed by filing complaints with the applicable regulatory agency, which will often initiate an investigation and hold administrative hearings.
Most regions have a whistleblower act to protect employees from reporting improper government actions. Government agencies make a generic whistleblower reporting form available to employees in order to comply with whistleblower laws. The whistleblower has to provide his or her contact information and that of the government employee or manager being accused. The form also often asks for detailed information about the actions, and there are spaces for the person filling out the form to write pertinent information about the situation. For example, a common question asked on forms is, “Where did the improper action take place?”
Whistleblowers have to make a distinction between personnel matters that are not protected by whistleblower laws and improper government actions. Some examples of improper actions are gross waste of public funds, alteration of scientific findings, and violations of specific laws. The whistleblower reporting form is used to report these and similar acts. A personnel matter may include sexual harassment, racial discrimination, or inappropriate verbal reprimands. There are forms to report those behaviors, but individuals often cannot use the whistleblower reporting form in those cases.
Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who fill out and submit a whistleblower reporting form. Some retaliatory acts include firing or demoting the employee, discriminating against her, and threatening her. Employers who do so are in violation of whistleblower laws and may be liable for damages. The form may also require the names of witnesses to confirm the allegations, and those witnesses are often protected from retaliation from the employer.
An employee who is not comfortable completing a form alone can in some regions get the assistance of a lawyer to fill it out on his behalf. For example, a whistleblower reporting form may require supporting documents and detailed information that may be intimidating to an employee who just wants to report violations. The employee has to attest to the allegations that she is reporting, but the attorney can submit the form for her.