Consult with a lawyer, specifically one who has experience helping whistleblowers. Most lawyers aren’t well-versed in whistleblower law, which is extremely complicated. The attorney-client privilege will also ensure that your communications will remain protected and confidential
Create a detailed, contemporaneous paper trail. Keep a log that is a timeline of all relevant developments: what happened, when and to whom you complained, and any resulting retaliation. Record all dates and note the details of any supporting emails, memos, or other documentary evidence.
Print or save any relevant documents you possess such as meeting notes, memos, or emails. One can also record meetings secretly in one-party consent states (including 39 states and Washington, DC), though secret recording usually violates personnel rules.
Keep evidence in a safe place. Authorities usually are not limited in access to the whistleblower’s workplace, but home storage of documents can also be risky, subjecting a whistleblower to pretextual discipline or a retaliatory investigation for theft of documents. Before taking actual documents, you should make sure they are your documents to take. If it is not clear, it is better to photograph or lawfully reproduce the documents, but leave originals in the office. If they are classified, they are not yours to take or reproduce, so doing so is essentially an act of civil disobedience. If you have questions, it is best to consult with counsel before taking action. Regardless, it is advisable to store your evidence with your attorney, where it is shielded by attorney-client privilege.
Avoid being accused of stealing any documents. In instances where it is not practical or legal to take evidence home, tactics such as mislabeling and misfiling records in your office, to be found later, can prevent their destruction. The strategy means keeping careful notes on a document's substance, but "burying" copies of the actual record in an archive file or an electronic folder with an innocuous name. Be prepared to serve as navigator for law enforcement or other outside investigators to trace where to find copies of the documents that an agency acting in bad faith will claim do not exist.
Make a plan. For example, decide whether and when to blow the whistle internally or externally. When does it make sense to give up on internal channels? What documents, if any, should be shared with whom? Try to predict how those in the agency or department will react and respond to a disclosure.
Converse with family members and loved ones before blowing the whistle. The old adage applies here: plan for the worst and hope for the best. Consider the impact on family members and friends should retaliation occur. This is a decision you must make together, or you may find yourself alone. Develop alternate employment options before drawing attention to yourself.
Avoid creating any other reason to be fired for cause. Maintain good job performance an follow workplace rules, and if suspected be careful not to take the bait in pretextual confrontations.
Test the waters with work colleagues and attempt to garner their support, if possible. Determine which colleagues would corroborate your observations or possibly even participate actively in blowing the whistle, although be discreet and start with trusted contacts.
Seek outside help including journalists, politicians, and public interest organizations, judiciously. Solidarity is essential to both making a difference from blowing the whistle on misconduct and surviving the experience.