Your Boss Is a Crook, Now What?

There isn't much worse than giving your all to a job, only to find out that your boss is into some shady business. As an employee, it's your job to follow their lead, but what should you do if their leadership totally stinks?


It's risky putting yourself on the line when your boss is the one who is making bad choices. It's understandable to be afraid of the repercussions that could follow if you expose their actions: Will you lose your job? Will your boss throw you under the bus?

There's a right way and a wrong way to turn your boss in when they're purposely hurting your company or the employees they're supervising. Here's what you need to know if your boss is a crook.

Bernie Madoff stole $20 billion with his ponzi scheme
Image Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images News/GettyImages

Document everything

First and foremost, you need proof of whatever is going down. Whenever possible, document your boss's actions. Are they stealing money? Print off records. If your work environment is dangerous and they've done nothing to address it, take pictures. If you're working for a doctor who is billing Medicaid for services they didn't provide, print off records or keep a written record.


Know your state’s whistleblower laws

In some states, employees can report illegal activity in the workplace under whistleblower laws. These laws will protect you from retaliation, including termination, and operating under these laws is the best way to report illegal workplace activity. In most cases, whistleblower laws will apply to insurance fraud, tax fraud, or workplace discrimination -- but the laws may vary from state to state. If you're not sure about the whistleblower laws in your state, the United States Department of Labor is a great place to start.



As an employee, it is your right to work in an environment that doesn't pose any threats to your health. If your employer is neglecting to keep your workplace safe, you can place an anonymous tip with OSHA, or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. In addition to providing options for employees working in a poor work environment, OSHA also protects these employees from retaliation after they place a tip. If you believe you are being retaliated against after reporting your boss, you can find the resources you need to file a whistleblower complaint on their website.


Make an anonymous tip to HR

If your boss's actions don't fall under whistleblower laws, your human resources department is the next best place to report illegal behavior. Many larger businesses have procedures in place to protect their employees from discrimination and harassment, but if you are really fearful of retaliation, you can begin with an anonymous tip. If possible, provide proof of the behavior so your human resources officers can easily pursue the issue and administer consequences to your boss.


Walk away

In a perfect world, your boss will straighten up and stop breaking the law after a single employee complaint. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case. If you have reported your boss for harassment, theft, or an unsafe work environment and nothing has changed -- it might be time to walk away. It is really hard to leave a job you love, but being mixed up with a corrupt employer isn't worth the risk. As soon as possible, find a new job and leave your crooked boss behind.