Am I obligated to report known violations of company policy?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Am I obligated to report known violations of company policy?

My employer has recently drafted and sent out a new Employee Handbook, detailing policy for both executive office and retail employees. I’m personally aware of several violations, based on the guidelines given, including at least one incidence of EEO law by management, at the direction of a then VP, and management failing to take appropriate action on other violations by employees. Am I obligated to inform HR, if I already know local management is responsible for these violations of company policy? Conversely, am I putting myself at risk by failing to report these violations should they be discovered at a later date?

Asked on May 23, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, North Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

1) You have no legal obligation to report policy violations to HR unless you have a written employment agreement requiring you to do so
2) You are not liable for policy or even legal (e.g. discrimination law) violations unless you personally cause or contribute to them. For example: an employee is a different department makes racist comments: you have no liability. A subordinate of yours (i.e. someone you supervise and are responsible for at work) makes raciest comments and you do not take action, letting them continue: there are scenarios in this case where you could be liable.
3) The above said, unless you have an employment contract protecting you, you are an "employee at will," and employees at will have no real job protection. If a superior discovers at some point that you knew of a violation or problem and did not bring it up, if he/she thinks that was wrong, you could be disciplined, demoted, suspended, or terminated by your unhappy superior.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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