Working in a team of people is an awesome experience. You work together to build something great, and often make friends along the way. It can be difficult, then, to admit when you feel or see something wrong in your work environment. This is often referred to as “workplace misconduct”.
If you witness workplace misconduct before your very eyes, it is hard to ignore. No matter how small the indiscretion you have witnessed may be, it can be pretty shocking when it happens right in front of you. We all believe that we would do the right thing if we witness something bad happen at work, but the truth is, many people stay silent out of fear of the consequences.
In this blog, we will discuss how workplace misconduct can be noticed, and what you should do if you witness it happening.
What Is Workplace Misconduct?
Workplace misconduct is a term that covers a wide range of actions and behaviors that can happen in the workplace. It can range from a throwaway comment or another verbal indiscretion, to assault, theft, bullying and other negative actions.
If a person is found to have displayed behaviors that go against the workplace policies of the company, it is likely they will lose their job right away. Misconduct isn’t always the same as a crime – a person can commit misconduct without actually having broken the law. However, if they have broken the law, most companies notify the authorities and immediately terminate that employee’s contract.
Can You Get Fired for Calling Out Misconduct?
One dilemma that plagues many people who witness misconduct is the ramifications that could occur in their own lives. Particularly if they are making serious allegations against another staff member or senior person, it can become a he-said, she-said situation and often results in bitterness on all sides.
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t call out misconduct when you see it. You should always try to do the right thing and put yourself forward, even if it feels scary. Especially if a law has been broken, you should absolutely notify the relevant authorities.
Many people ask the question: can you be fired for being a whistleblower? Simply put, most of the time, a company can’t fire a whistleblower due to laws that are in place to protect them. However, it can be a challenging moment in your life when you have whistleblowing misconduct and remain stationed at the same company. Often there is bad blood, and many people feel it best to move on.
How Do I Report Misconduct at Work?
Depending on the structure of the company you work for, there are different processes to reporting misconduct. If you feel a crime has been committed, you should notify the police – but in any case, criminal activity or in-house rule breaking, you should always contact human resources as your first port of call.
Being a whistleblower takes courage. Use our guide to help you figure out what to do if you witness workplace misconduct.