Violations of Law in the Workplace

Violations of the law in a workplace can occur in multiple ways. Employees engaging in illegal activities at work, an employer violating labor laws or engaging in illegal activity, or an employer dealing with third parties engaged in illegal activities all pose hazards to employers and workers. Employees fearing the consequences of reporting illegal activity at work may protect themselves by not reporting illegal activity or even denying knowledge of such activities when questioned.

Employees and Illegal Activity

Employees may engage in theft, embezzlement or other criminal activity for financial gain. Security systems and staffing assist employers with minimizing theft and losses due to employee's illegal activities. Equipment like video surveillance and electronic security systems are used for documenting and preventing employee crimes. Security guards and undercover security personnel track and apprehend criminal employees. Employees may also engage in crimes like abusing drugs or alcohol at work; driving company vehicles or operating equipment under the influence puts employers and employees at risk. Employees abusing or selling illegal substances at work also pose safety and legal hazards. Employees harassing or stalking co-workers are breaking the law. Employees engaging in discrimination against protected classes are a liability; employers can be fined for violating equal opportunity employment laws.

Employers Engaging in Illegal Activity

Not long after landing a new job, you become suspicious of what your company is really selling, or you suspect that your boss is dealing drugs at work. You've overheard shady conversations, and your co-workers have suggested that you look the other way when certain people visit the office. Employees suspecting employers of illegal activity can risk being implicated in criminal acts if illegal activities are discovered; you could be accused by a co-worker or boss in their attempts to avoid arrest or termination. Don't tolerate threats or coercion at work. Leaving and reporting an employer engaging in illegal practices protects your safety and integrity.

Criminal Business Associates

Illegal activity involving your employer's business associates can be difficult to prove, but heeding your gut instincts is a good way to avoid being implicated or involved in criminal activities at work. Verifying third-party crimes in the workplace can be difficult unless you witness a criminal act. Examples of third-party crime include money laundering or altering accounting records to cover business associates' crimes. Maintaining your safety is critical when you suspect or observe illegal activity at work. Report criminal activities to law enforcement using an anonymous tip hot line if you feel unsafe or fear retaliation.

Safety and Ethics

Discovering and reporting crimes in the workplace involves risks and can potentially ruin innocent careers and lives if handled improperly. Don't report crimes at work unless you personally witness such activity. Although turning your head the other way and not reporting workplace crime may seem like the easiest solution, your silence may jeopardize your employer's reputation, or worse, the safety of you and your co-workers. Leaving a job where illegal activities are occurring may be your only safe course of action if you're reporting your employer or co-workers to law enforcement.

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