What is a whistleblower? Defining what the term becomes a difficult issue often resulting in negative consequences for the well-intentioned employee.
Whistleblowing “is a reported disclosure of fraud, waste abuse, abuse of authority, gross mismanagement or violation of law,” said Debra Roth, partner at Shaw, Bransford and Roth.
However, declaring yourself as a whistleblower and being viewed as a whistleblower under law are different things.
Roth told the Federal Drive that federal employees “are unaware that the law won’t protect them. They think that if they declare themselves as a whistleblower … They have all this automatic protection under law.”
“One of the downsides to making an anonymous complaint is that sometimes the inspector general community, because it is anonymous, it’s harder for them to investigate because they don’t know where to start,” Roth said. “A lot of those anonymous complaints go under-investigated.”
Roth added, “Management can quickly figure out who blew the whistle on them” by determining who knows certain information in a department.