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Will I Go to Jail If My Employer Asks Me to Break the Law?

Eyes pain. Tired, overworking businessman with laptop in modern white office interior. Handsome man in casual at work with computer, job problems concept.
By George Khoury, Esq. on April 29, 2019

Simply put, if you break the law for your employer, you can be punished, criminally. Whether or not that includes going to jail will depend on the law you were asked to break  -- and whether you did it.

The good news is that if you do decide to break the law at your employer’s request, your employer might be in jail right alongside you. But before you go breaking bad for your boss, know that if you tell your employer that you will not break the law the law can provide a remedy if you face retaliation or get terminated for opposing unlawful conduct.

Just Don’t Do It

For employees faced with the conundrum of whether to break the law or lose their jobs, the choice can be rather difficult, particularly when the crime may not seem that bad. However, any worker asked to do something they know is illegal, even something seemingly innocent (like driving above the speed limit to make faster deliveries), should really think twice before doing it.

Sure, you won’t go to jail for speeding, but if you get a ticket, even if your employer pays the fine, the consequences of points on your license and higher insurance rates, are yours to face. In some situations, the proper course of action will require a careful risk assessment, which should probably involve the advice of an attorney.

Real Crime, Real Time

Commonly, employees may be asked to create false documents, reports, spreadsheets, or submit fraudulent billings. These are very serious crimes which can result in jail time and felony fraud charges.

Unfortunately, for employees who agree to participate in serious unlawful conduct on behalf of their employers, there is a very real chance that the individual employee could face criminal charges and a real jail sentence. After all, while corporations can be prosecuted for criminal activity, only individuals can actually go to jail and usually the people who get locked up are the individual corporate officers and employees who participated in the criminal activity.

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