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When is whistleblowing illegal?

For the most part, the U.S. is known for freedom of speech. Unfortunately, in the past, some employees have not experienced such privileges. Whistleblowing, the act of exposing illegal or unethical behavior, can land someone in a lot of trouble. Often, employees would face retaliation and lose their jobs. Now, federal and state laws protect a person's rights to disclose corrupt activity.

The Conscientious Employee Protection Act is a New Jersey law specially designed to protect whistleblowers. Under this law, whistleblowers can even collect attorneys' fees and other costs after a successful claim. Along with state protection, the federal False Claims Act gives further incentive for calling out fraudulent behavior.

Despite the incentives and protections, there are cases in which the government may consider whistleblowing illegal.

Classified materials and other sensitive information

Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning are both controversial examples of how whistleblowing can backfire. While some argue that certain acts are noble, and even ethical, the waters get murky.

The Espionage Act has been used a few many times to charge federal employees for leaking sensitive information. In summary, whistleblowing can often be illegal if the exposed information threatens national security. For example, leaking unauthorized government information could leave the military or other federal employees vulnerable.

Every situation is unique. In most cases, employees who report improper or illegal activities face retaliation from employers. It's important to have your case evaluated before further actions to ensure you have legal protection.

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The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC
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