Is Your Boss Doing Something Illegal? 189 · Consider the consequences if you do nothing, knowing there is illegal activity taking place. What happens if you choose to do nothing and it comes out later that you knew? Sometimes you put yourself at risk by keeping your mouth shut. · By keeping information under wraps, you may also be committing a crime. It's not likely, of course, unless you lie to law enforcement, but again, different jurisdictions have different laws. Is inaction in the face of illegal acts ever justified? The most obvious situation where doing nothing is a viable option is when you have no proof and no documentation, but have heard rumors. Even here, it depends on the nature of the crime. It may be appropriate to provide information about your suspicions if the crime is exceedingly serious. From the Manager's Desk If you're in doubt about the laws pertaining to not reporting a crime, it's best to consult a law-yer in your area or contact law enforcement anonymously to ask for clarification. Different laws apply in different places. I understand that trying to stop illegal activity is a scary enterprise, because your job--and perhaps your entire career--can be at stake. Ultimately, regardless of what anyone says to you, you will make your decision based on your own morals, ethics, and principles. Just be aware of the conse- quences of doing nothing and of taking action, so you can make as informed a choice as possible. Try Company Channels The second option is probably the most advisable in most situations. You can work through existing company channels to share the load and the responsibility of any actions. What might that involve? In part it depends on who you have access to in your company and the severity of the situation. The most common ways to use existing company channels include going through the human resources department, or approaching someone much higher up on the man- agement power structure. Sometimes that might be the CEO. As we've said earlier, human resource departments may have limited power and influence, so you need to be aware of that. However, they're more likely to take action if the situation is very serious. By the way, in large companies you may have other options. For example, if you are aware of fraud or embezzlement, then you might be able to approach the auditing department or even the ac- counting department. In the face of blatant illegal activity that you can prove, consider going as high as you can as quickly as possible. If you can access the CEO, do so. Management lower down may be hesitant to follow up on your concerns because they lack sufficient clout. It's less likely the CEO will feel so con- strained.