Whistleblowing in government agencies: 3 things to know

Whistleblowers play a critical role in ensuring the integrity of government organizations. Oregon law recognizes the importance of this role and offers protections for whistleblowers.

These protections are especially important in the public sector. Government workers are often drawn to the public sector out of a desire to serve the common good.

As a government employee, you have a unique perspective on the inner workings of public agencies. You’re the eyes and ears of day-to-day operations. When you notice something fishy afoot, you feel a duty to speak up. And by doing so, you’re protecting not only taxpayers and constituents, but the greater public interest.

What protections do Oregon government whistleblowers have?

If you’re thinking about blowing the whistle on a state or local government agency, here are three important things to know:

  1. You’re protected from retaliation. Your employer can’t retaliate against you for reporting fraud, waste, abuse, threats to public safety, or possible violations of laws, rules or regulations. “Retaliation” refers to any adverse employment action – including termination, demotions, unfavorable job assignments and the like.
  2. You’re protected even if you turned out to be wrong. So long as you made the report in good faith, believing that a violation occurred (or was about to occur), you’re entitled to whistleblower protections.
  3. You can remain anonymous. Public employers can’t disclose the identity of whistleblowers without their consent.

State and local government agencies are required to have written whistleblowing policies in place. If you’re unsure where to turn, those policies are a good place to start. And don’t hesitate to consult with a lawyer about the specifics of your situation.

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