A common legal definition of a whistleblower is someone, typically an employee, who discloses information, either internally to managers, organizational hotlines, etc. This definition captures two key points about whistleblowers. First, whistleblowers typically are current or former employees with direct, credible information about wrongdoing that they became aware of while on the job. Second, the concerns are serious and their disclosures reveal changes that must be made according to the law or in protection of the public interest. Cultural biases, combined with the natural resistance from within organizations to those who challenge the practices of their employers, have led to several common misperceptions about whistleblowers.
Whilst this is important, it is not suitable or practicable for enabling organisations to understand whistleblowing principles and how to implement policies and procedures effectively. The application of the public policy exemption varies significantly from state to state. Why has organisational whistleblowing grown to be a self-evident and important part of the compliance structure? The Guardian. The Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner of Canada PSIC  provides a safe and confidential mechanism enabling public servants and the general public to disclose wrongdoings committed in the public sector.
Cum eating guy own. Introduction
When the firm, through a product or policy, will commit serious and considerable harm to the public, the employee should report the firm. Source: Near and Miceli. These insights suggest that whistleblowing policies must mandate the adoption Following norms for legitimate whistle blowing implementation of programs designed to increase the knowledge Following norms for legitimate whistle blowing skills of whistleblowers in using the official channels and procedures for whistleblowing. On the one hand, it can increase whistleblowing effectiveness by reducing the likelihood of retaliation against whistleblowers and by preventing attacks against the motivations of whistleblowers who have questionable characters but, nonetheless, Exterior accents for older homes valuable information about wrongdoings. Job responsibilities changed. Furthermore, as mention in a previous section above, organizations must be prepared and follow a series of managerial steps in order to prevent whistle-blowers from blowing the whistle. Retrieved November 12. Source: Jos, Philip. Situational variables that affect the outcome of whistleblowing. On the Social Level Perceptions of the personal costs and of whistleblowing may differ among cultures. Nonetheless, several studies have documented the benefits of whistleblowing.
- There are two central problems in designing and implementing policies and programs to promote whistleblowing against corruption.
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Ask a question. Related Content. This chapter contains a comparative study of the rights and protections for whistleblowers in France, Japan, the UK and the US. To achieve effective corporate governance, companies must find a reliable method of identifying and correcting any unlawful or unethical conduct that occurs within their organisations.
Employees' involvement is essential in this process. As a result, companies must:. Not obstruct employees from reporting misconduct potentially harmful to the company. Introduce procedures for ensuring reliable reporting. Where companies have been unable or unwilling to protect employees who report misconduct, many jurisdictions have introduced specific statutory protection for employees who "blow the whistle".
Discusses the different general approaches taken to protect whistleblowers. Summarises the interaction between local whistleblowing and data protection laws.
Includes a comparative table giving an overview of key requirements and restrictions that apply to employers' whistleblowing procedures in the selected jurisdictions.
General approaches to protect whistleblowers The general approach to protecting whistleblowers varies significantly in different jurisdictions. In France, for example, there is very little specific statutory protection for whistleblowers. By contrast, some jurisdictions have a unified approach to whistleblower protection. In Japan and the UK, for instance, a single law provides protection for whistleblowers in both the private and public sectors, and covers complaints related to a broad range of misconduct.
Protection for whistleblowers in other jurisdictions such as the US is set out in various sources, including:. Federal and state law. The level of protection in the US also depends on the type of employer, misconduct and the employee who blows the whistle. Interaction between local whistleblowing and data protection laws There are recent high profile examples of data protection authorities challenging internal whistleblowing procedures in some jurisdictions.
For instance, European courts and data protection authorities have recently declared unlawful certain whistleblowing procedures that companies in Europe implemented to comply with the US Sarbanes-Oxley Act SOX.
These whistleblowing policies were objected to because of:. The reliance placed on anonymous reporting. The focus on the accuser's rights as opposed to the subject of the complaint.
The centralised system for reporting complaints, usually based in the US. Companies subject to SOX requirements which can include companies in non-US jurisdictions implemented these hotline whistleblowing procedures to provide a system for making confidential, anonymous complaints about fraudulent conduct. As this recent controversy over SOX whistleblowing procedures demonstrates, multinational companies can face competing duties under company-wide whistleblowing systems and local data protection laws.
For these multinational companies, it is important to review the legal position relating to whistleblowing and associated issues in specific jurisdictions. France Rights and remedies for whistleblowers Under the French Labour Code Code du Travail , protection against dismissal or other detrimental treatment for whistleblowing is only provided in very limited circumstances.
Employees who report sexual or moral harassment are given protection section 3, L, Labour Code. In addition, employees are protected if they report breaches of health and safety, and refuse to resume work until the employer remedies these breaches L, Labour Code. If employees report other unlawful or improper conduct, French legislation does not offer specific protection.
For example, if employees report certain matters, such as bribery, the French authorities, rather than enacting laws to protect whistleblowers, have relied on the employers' association Le Mouvement des Enterprises de France MEDEF to draw up recommendations for employers. Recently, however, the CNIL has responded to various companies implementing hotline whistleblowing procedures in France to comply with the SOX see above, Interaction between local whistleblowing and data protection laws.
It has done so by clarifying the rights for both whistleblowers and those accused of wrongdoing in its "unique authorisation" procedure. This procedure was introduced on 28 December and allows employers to self-certify whistleblowing systems that they have adopted. Under the CNIL's new procedure, employers must incorporate protection against dismissal or adverse consequences for whistleblowers into any system for receiving whistleblowing complaints that may involve personal data being processed.
Currently, the CNIL only allows employers to self-certify whistleblowing procedures for reporting serious risks to the company, such as:. A whistleblowing system can also take into account matters that do not fall into the above categories if they are particularly serious. The organisation in charge of handling the reports must assess the seriousness of a complaint on a case-by-case basis.
Complaints are considered serious if they affect important interests of the company, or its employees' physical or mental health. For example, serious complaints could relate to:. A threat to another employee's safety.
Serious environmental breaches or threats to public health. Serious risks to the security of the company's information system. The CNIL has acknowledged that the extent to which employees would be affected by whistleblowing on these matters is limited. This is because the type of financial misconduct subject to reporting only involves certain employees at a company.
Employers must obtain approval from the CNIL for whistleblowing procedures related to any matter beyond this scope, and the CNIL has indicated that it is unlikely to approve these procedures. Subject to limitations set out in the Labour Code, certain criminal law provisions and the whistleblowing policies implemented under the CNIL procedure see above , employees who make reports of wrongdoing in good faith are protected from dismissal or other detriment.
If a labour court rules that employees have been unfairly dismissed, they are entitled to a minimum of six months' salary as damages, provided that both of the following conditions are met L, Labour Code :. They have at least two years' service. They work for an employer with at least 11 employees. If these conditions are not fulfilled, damages are based on the merits of each individual case with no minimum amount imposed.
The CNIL's authority, however, only extends to "supplementary" whistleblowing systems. These are defined as systems that provide an avenue for complaint outside a company's usual complaints procedure or other "standard reporting channels", such as complaints made to:. Employee representatives. However, if complaints made through these channels result in personal data being further processed, compiled or disclosed particularly to persons or entities outside the company or the jurisdiction , the CNIL's protections for the whistleblower and the accused party could still apply.
The French Labour Authority is expected to issue its own guidance on whistleblowing procedures, which are likely to clarify further the rights and remedies in relation to this matter. Data protection issues The CNIL's unique authorisation procedure see above, Rights and remedies for whistleblowers imposes significant requirements for protecting data relating to both the whistleblower and the accused party.
These requirements must be met to comply with the French Data Protection Act 6 January , as amended in August and include:. Restricting the categories of data that can be collected in relation to the whistleblower, the accused party and the allegations.
Limiting the number of persons who can have access to reports, and requiring training and additional confidentiality duties for those persons. Allowing the data collected to be disclosed only when necessary for an investigation.
Maintaining the whistleblower's confidentiality. Requiring third parties who deal with whistleblowing reports to enter into agreements so that data is adequately and properly processed. Ensuring that data processors have taken measures to achieve adequate protection before data is allowed to be transmitted:. Strictly limiting the time period for archiving and disposing of data relating to reports. Requiring employers to notify the subject of a whistleblower's report promptly after measures have been taken to protect evidence.
Giving the subject of a whistleblower's report the opportunity to correct or delete inaccurate data. Whistleblowing policies The CNIL imposes strict requirements for employees to be notified about a supplementary whistleblowing procedure and its significant features. Most importantly, a company's whistleblowing policy must encourage reporting that is not made on an anonymous basis. The communication to employees must not discuss the possibility of making anonymous reports even though anonymous reports can be accepted and investigated.
As a minimum, employees must be notified about the following regarding a whistleblowing procedure:. Why it was implemented. That it is a purely voluntary procedure and there are no penalties for not using it. The accused person's right to correct inaccurate information. That improper or abusive use of the procedure may result in disciplinary or legal action. That those who use the procedure in good faith will not be subject to dismissal or adverse action.
How data will be protected outside the EEA if transmitted to a jurisdiction that is not considered to provide adequate data protection see above, Data protection issues. A company that receives complaints through standard reporting channels, such as direct reporting, is not required to implement a policy for receiving these complaints in accordance with the CNIL's strict guidelines.
However, as the CNIL's authority can sometimes apply in these circumstances see above, Rights and remedies for whistleblowers , a company should notify employees about how data relating to employees' complaints is processed and protected. Implementing a policy is advisable and considered to be the best practice. Implementation process When implementing a supplementary whistleblowing system, a company must comply with the CNIL's strict requirements for self-certification see above, Rights and remedies for whistleblowers.
The self-certification process, which can be completed online through the CNIL's website www. A company can adopt whistleblowing procedures in which reports are received outside of France. In this case, however, the CNIL advises that the reports should be forwarded for investigation in France.
If the initial report is received in a jurisdiction outside the EEA that is deemed to provide insufficient data protection see above, Data protection issues , the company must take measures to ensure that data is adequately protected in the event of such a cross-border data transfer. Before implementing any whistleblowing procedure, an employer must fulfil any duties to consult employee representatives or the company's works council.
It invalidates dismissals or other adverse consequences that result from individuals disclosing information in the public interest about companies or government agencies. Private and public organisations are also required to respond to allegations of improper conduct. Under the WPA, a protected "public interest disclosure" is defined as a report of "relevant disclosure information" by a "worker" to any of the following:.
An "employer" a company, association, organisation or an individual, such as a director, executive officer, auditor or agent. Any other person in a position to prevent a particular situation from arising or worsening. For the disclosure to be protected, however, it must be made for a legitimate purpose and not to seek an unfair advantage over others or to cause detriment to a third party. Relevant disclosure information includes details about criminal conduct or breaches of statutory provisions designed to protect:.
Consumer interests. Workers who make disclosures under the WPA to their employer are protected from detrimental actions, such as:.
Termination of arrangements in which they are sent to work abroad. Before the WPA was enacted, the Japanese courts declared invalid the dismissal of employees for conduct that was deemed to further the public interest.
We have a lot to learn. Whistle-blowing in 21 states has been protected by law, however, there are actions that some employees do in order to avoid retaliation which made the law weak. In the society and organizational world, citizens have the right of freedom of speech. Personnel practices. In turn, the outcomes of these interactions will depend on the characteristics of the five 5 primary actors in whistleblowing Near and Miceli
Following norms for legitimate whistle blowing. Standing Out
In a survey of New South Wales Australia public sector employees, it was reported that 76 percent of the respondents said they would either be unlikely to, or definitely would not, report corruption in the absence of legal protection.
Perceptions of the personal costs and of whistleblowing may differ among cultures. The differences may be explained by the dominant value judgments with regard to existing practices.
One culture may accept a certain business practice, for example, but in another context, such practice would be viewed as questionable Schultz et al. The differences in value judgments with regard to certain practices may also affect employee's assessment on whether to report a wrongdoing.
Organizational culture is another factor affecting people's propensity to blow the whistle against observed and perceived forms of wrongdoing. As "collective programs", organizational culture contains values that direct not only people's awareness and attitudes of "good" and "evil" acts, but also contribute to the "tolerance of principled dissent in the organization".
People will not also be willing to blow the whistle when authorities, whether internal or external to the organization, habitually fail to act on reported wrongdoings. The perception that nothing will be done about a reported wrongdoing may contribute to the potential whistleblower's fear of retaliation from powerful wrongdoers. Policies designed to encourage whistleblowing must consider the factors that facilitate or constrain it. In addition, they must address the issues that impede the effectiveness of whistleblowing in correcting or terminating reported questionable practices.
Understanding the whistleblowing process provides valuable guidance in designing such policy. The whistleblowing process has been explored in considerable depth by some scholars.
Near, Dworkin, and Miceli employed the concepts of justice and power to make some sense of the whistleblowing process. Justice framework. This framework explains the reactions of various parties to whistleblowing.
It uses the concepts of procedural and distributive justice to understand the reactions of parties to whistleblowing incidents.
The concept of "procedural justice" guides stakeholders' perceptions of "satisfaction" or "dissatisfaction" with the system of whistleblowing Near, Dworkin, and Miceli The justice framework offers the following insights on whistleblowing effectiveness.
Procedural justice. The organization's fairness in administering the procedures for dealing with whistleblowing incidents determines the whistleblower satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the whistleblowing system. Members of the organization will perceive that there is procedural justice when the whistleblower follows "fair" reporting procedures, probably reporting the wrongdoing through internal channels than making it public knowledge by reporting it to some outside agency or the media.
Distributive justice. The members of the organization will be satisfied with the whistleblowing when they feel that the organization was not harmed by the wrongdoing and the whistleblowing. Power-relations framework. This framework views whistleblowing as an "influence process" that affects the "balance of power within an organization".
The organization can either terminate or continue with the challenged practice, depending on how powerful or influential the whistleblower is in the organization.
Lacking power, the whistleblower may be punished for his or her "activism" that may rock the stability and challenges the power structures in the organization. Thus, for Near and Miceli , the whistleblower's effectiveness in producing the desired changes depends partly on the power he or she possesses in the organization. Whistleblowing involves the dynamic interaction of several parties.
Near and Miceli offers the following simple framework to understand this process of interaction. Figure 5. A model of the whistleblowing process. As Figure 5 shows, whistleblowing effectiveness will be determined by the combined outcomes of the six 6 interactions:.
In turn, the outcomes of these interactions will depend on the characteristics of the five 5 primary actors in whistleblowing Near and Miceli Characteristics of the whistleblower;.
Characteristics of the complaint-recipient;. Characteristics of the wrongdoer;. Characteristics of the wrongdoing;. Characteristics of the organization. The influence of individual and situational variables on the outcome of whistleblowing is shown in Figures 6 and 7. Essentially, the credibility and power of whistleblowers, complaint recipients, or wrongdoers affect the overall outcome of a whistleblowing incident. The organizational and societal support to whistleblowers or wrongdoer is also crucial in determining the outcomes of whistleblowing.
Lastly, the willingness of the organization to change a questionable practice determines whistleblowing effectiveness. Figure 6. Individual variables that affect the outcome of whistleblowing. Source: Near and Miceli. Effective Whistleblowing, p. Figure 7. Situational variables that affect the outcome of whistleblowing. In addition to individual variables, situational variables also influence the outcome of the whistleblowing process. Two variables are crucial: the characteristics of the wrongdoing and the characteristics of the organization.
The level of organizational dependence on a wrongdoing, the availability of convincing evidence of wrongdoing, and the legal basis for the whistleblowing may influence its outcomes.
Other important factors affecting whistleblowing effectiveness are 1 organizational perceptions on the "appropriateness of whistleblowing", 2 the existence of a climate favorable to whistleblowing, 3 the existence of less bureaucratic organizational structures, 4 organization's power relative to its external environment, and 5 the whistleblower's choice of whistleblowing channels internal or external.
The main challenges in whistleblowing policy design are 1 encouraging individuals with information about a wrongdoing to blow the whistle, and 2 making whistleblowing effective as an instrument of change. The literature contains rich insights on these core problems in whistleblowing. Among these are the following:.
Achieve overall system satisfaction. Improve legal standards on protected whistleblowing. Reduce the costs of whistleblowing. Create effective societal and organizational structures. Promote role-prescribed whistleblowing. Enhance whistleblowing skills. Achieve system satisfaction.
Many policy initiatives to encourage whistleblowing generally fail because they focus only on satisfying the concerns of whistleblowers; the concerns of the other parties such as managers and fellow employees are largely neglected Near, Dworkin and Miceli Currently, the dominant approach to encourage whistleblowing is to protect whistleblowers and establish procedures that will facilitate whistleblowing. Such interventions are not enough to increase the supply of whistleblowers to counter the massive corruption in some societies and organizations.
The key to encourage whistleblowing, according to Near and Miceli , is to achieve overall system satisfaction, which can create a much safer environment for whistleblowers. To achieve system satisfaction, policies must satisfy the procedural and distributive justice concerns of both the whistleblowers and the other parties to whistleblowing incidents. Satisfying the concerns of whistleblowers. Policies must ensure that organizations establish and provide fair procedures for whistleblowing by employees.
In addition, the policies must address the distributive concerns of whistleblowers, i. The policies must ensure that whistleblowers will not suffer from retaliation as a result of reporting wrongdoings that pose serious harm to the public or organizational interests. For whistleblowers, satisfaction and continuing confidence on the whistleblowing system will come from perception that society and organizations have fair and user-friendly procedures for reporting and responding to reported wrongdoing.
The whistleblowing system must ensure that whistleblowers will be amply protected, if not rewarded, when they blow the whistle against serious forms of wrongdoing.
Satisfy the procedural and distributive concerns of the other parties to whistleblowing. The policies must provide certain incentives for whistleblowers to follow the prescribed and legitimate procedures for whistleblowing, probably giving the organization the first opportunity to correct the wrongdoing.
Policies to encourage whistleblowing must raise awareness and appreciation of the individual, organizational, and societal benefits of whistleblowing. Addressing the concerns of stakeholders will help produce a favorable response to whistleblowing ibid. Policies must mandate the adoption and implementation of programs to promote the value of whistleblowing to all stakeholders.
Improve legal and organizational standards on protected whistleblowing. Whistleblowing will be more effective when whistleblowers report activities that are clearly illegal compared to those that are merely unethical or immoral Near and Miceli In one survey, majority of respondents expressed higher preference for whistleblowing against illegal-as compared to merely unethical--activities Callahan, Sangrey and Collins In the same study, 75 percent of respondents believed that an employee who is terminated for informing the news media of an employer's illegal activity should be protected.
In comparison, only 61 percent of respondents asked for whistleblower's protection for those who report unethical practices.
Laws that define the forms of wrongdoing that are illegal also empower complaint-recipients to act on whistleblower's disclosure. Whistleblowing will be more effective in organizations with ethical climates that discourage wrongdoing, encourage the reporting of wrongdoing, and discourage retaliation against whistleblowers Near and Miceli The ethical climates in organizations influence perceptions of the appropriateness of whistleblowing Near and Miceli In general, if the organizational climate discourages wrongdoing, then employees will be more encouraged to report a wrongdoing.
When stakeholders perceive that the whistleblower's action is appropriate, then whistleblowing will be more effective in producing the desired changes. When coworkers, management, and the complaint recipient believe that organizational norms allow or even encourage the reporting of a wrongdoing, then whistleblowing will be more effective. But, if stakeholders perceive that the whistleblower's actions have breached the bounds of appropriateness, whistleblowing will be resisted regardless of its benefits.
Policy interventions, therefore, must encourage organizations to adopt organizational cultures and practices that make whistleblowing legitimate, appropriate, and socially rewarding. Whistleblowing has personal costs that will make whistleblowing a rare behavior among individuals. Mitigating these costs will increase the individual's use of whistleblowing as an instrument for correcting or terminating wrongdoings.
A holistic policy on whistleblower's protection is an essential step in reducing the costs of, and encouraging, whistleblowing. Policies must also establish programs to promote the value of whistleblowers for organizations and the society. Counter the negative perception that whistleblowers are "harmdoers".
Some people in powerful positions view a whistleblower as "harmdoer" when he or she reports directly to an external public authority or to the media, about alleged wrongdoing. According to the view, a whistleblower makes the first "public attack" against an organization although he or she may be making a legitimate protest against a questionable organizational practice that poses serious harm to the public or even organizational interest.
To counter this view, whistleblowing policies must mandate the adoption of programs to promote the value of whistleblowers in uncovering anomalies that would do more serious damage to the public or even organizational interest if left not corrected. They must also provide incentives e.
Prevent retaliation. Policies and programs to encourage whistleblowing must be able to prevent harassment, reprisals and other forms of retaliatory actions, which are major impediments to whistleblowing. Society can reduce the personal costs of whistleblowing by establishing the rights of, and providing legal remedies for retaliatory actions against, whistleblowers.
Cultivate social support. Policies and programs must help cultivate societal and organizational support, which are far more effective strategies in preventing retaliation against whistleblowers.
They can enhance such support by increasing awareness of the benefits of whistleblowing and preventing damage to the reputations of individuals and organization from unsubstantiated allegations of wrongdoings. Increase personal benefits. Organizations and society must increase the personal benefits of whistleblowing. The level of expected benefits must be convincing enough to help the whistleblower decide in favor of whistleblowing despite the presence of risks. Attractive incentives, in whatever form, should be provided to encourage whistleblowing.
Create powerful societal or organizational structures for whistleblowing. The work of Near and Miceli on effective whistleblowing underscores the value of powerful complaint-recipients in making whistleblowing effective. Like whistleblowers, complaint-recipients also make some calculations on whether to act on the reported wrongdoings. They must determine 1 whether wrongdoing has really occurred, 2 whether they are responsible for acting, and 3 whether they have the power to change the wrongdoing.
When they are powerful enough, complaint-recipients may use "efficacious actions" to address a reported wrongdoing, but only when they support the whistleblower Near and Miceli A powerful complaint-recipient, who is supportive of the whistleblower, enhances the whistleblower's credibility ibid. Near and Miceli also hypothesize that whistleblowing is more effective in organizations with more formal written mechanisms of encouraging whistleblowing.
Allow graduated levels of anonymous or confidential whistleblowing. Anonymity may either enhance or decrease whistleblowing effectiveness Near and Miceli On the one hand, it can increase whistleblowing effectiveness by reducing the likelihood of retaliation against whistleblowers and by preventing attacks against the motivations of whistleblowers who have questionable characters but, nonetheless, provided valuable information about wrongdoings.
On the other hand, anonymity reduces the credibility of the complaint itself; it raises suspicions about the value of the disclosed information and the motive for whistleblowing. Anonymity makes it also difficult for complaint-recipients to seek additional evidence to validate the whistleblower's allegations of wrongdoing, reducing whistleblowing effectiveness in the process. Nuclear power plants, pharmaceutical firms and automobile manufacturer are places where decisions can have consequences that would preserve life or its quality.
Broadly, whistle blowing has the benefits for the society as a whole. All the individuals and organizations that operate within the social tertiary are the essential components of society. Is there a situation that whistle-blowing is justified? The answer is yes. Our text book listed the following conditions which state whistle-blowing is justified Business Ethics, Joseph W. Weiss :. When the firm, through a product or policy, will commit serious and considerable harm to the public, the employee should report the firm.
Pfizer Inc. When the employee identifies a serious threat of harm, he or she should report it and state his or her moral concern. Jeffrey S. After that he has received numerous honors and awards for his dedicated work. In recognition of his actions, the Electronic Frontier foundation picked Klein as one of the winners of its Awards. Douglas D. Keeth, a former corporate vice president for finance at United Technologies, which is based in Hartford, had participated in an internal investigation of the wrongdoing when the company first learned that its Sikorsky Aircraft division was billing the Pentagon for work it had not yet performed.
But when he reported these findings to corporate headquarters in March , the unnamed managers first ordered that all copies of the report, including hundreds of pages of internal company memos, voice-mail messages, and records be destroyed. The employee must have valid reasons to believe that revealing the wrongdoing to the public will result in the changes necessary to remedy the situation.
The chances of succeeding must be equal to the risk and danger the employee takes to blow the whistle. Robert MacLean, who disclosed that the FAMS planned to remove air marshals from nonstop, long distance flights—the same type of aircraft used during the September 11 attacks in , in order to avoid the cost of overnight hotel stay. The conditions and examples that are listed above are the situations when whistle-blowing is justified.
The whistle-blowers are acknowledged by the public and rewarded for their conscience and works. The corporations that are involved in the cases have been regulated for their own good and the interest for the people to be protected.
But we should also notice in some cases, whistle-blowing has put the whistleblower in a dangerous place.
Marlene Garcia Esperat, a former analytical chemist for the Philippines Department of Agriculture who became a journalist to expose departmental corruption, was murdered for it in Even the example that has been mentioned before, Dr. Jeffery Wigand claims that he was subsequently harassed and received anonymous death threats. They may not only face the normal consequences of losing jobs, ejected by the peers, but also lose their lives.
Nearly 30 states have their own whistle-blower protection laws. National Whistle-blower Center. To sum up, whistle-blowing can be justified in five conditions, each one of them occurred when the public and corporation interests are positively related and the consequences of blowing the whistle will ultimately benefit the corporation.
Whistle blowing must be acknowledged and rewarded by the general public. The actions of whistle-blowing bring danger to whistleblowers, so the federal and local governments have been trying to protect them by enacting laws and regulations. The moral dilemma of organizational loyalty versus personal ethics will always be an important issue. The justification for whistle-blowing and guidelines for potential whistle-blowers must be considered by employees before blowing the whistle and by corporations to prevent external whistle-blowing.
Business Ethics, Joseph W. Whistle-blowing in 21 states has been protected by law, however, there are actions that some employees do in order to avoid retaliation which made the law weak. The causes and acts of whistle-blowing is not justified in many ways. According to the textbook, some employees expose false accusation. Their motivations is not justifiable or accurate.
Therefore, Weiss listed the 5 instances when whistle-blowing is not justified as follows. Weiss, , p. When the information shown is about the plans or operation that should be confidential because it would affect the performance of the organization. When the information is irrelevant to the organization policies. The textbook also talks about 12 factors that should be considered before blowing the whistle in order for employees to have a chance to think about the value of being a whistleblower and if those accusations benefit themselves or the organization.
Whistle-blowing can be either loyal or disloyal to an organization. If that complaint had a positive effect on the organization, it would be considered as organizational loyalty. On the other hand, the complaint that is from negative thinking, as well as the instances that I mentioned above, it would be interpreted as disloyalty to the organization.
When employees know that some of the executives have been guilty of wrongdoing, they could either stay away and keep quiet or expose those unethical performances. To keep quiet is normally considered loyal, but to expose is always considered as betrayal. Employers might think that to blow the whistle is in order to threaten the profitability of the organization and undermine its reputation.
While employees who discover some wrongdoing of top managers and try to be responsible for the society by blowing the whistle might think they are loyal to the organization.
The organization expects employee loyalty in 4 ways; obey any reasonable instruction of employees, conform to the values and norms of the organization, supposed to protect and promote reputation of the organization and have to remain to confidentiality Whistle-blowing is not justified when it is considered organizational disloyalty.
Uys said that understanding loyalty as rational loyalty removes the dilemma of conflicting loyalties that the whistleblowers face Vandekckhove and Commers also support that loyalty is the explicit set of mission statements, goals value statement and code of conduct of the organization which is judged as legitimate Additionally, Uys gave the clear opinion about whistle blowing versus the organizational loyalty that as long as the complaint decrease the values and norms of the organization, employees would be considered disloyal and the whistle-blowing should not be justified.
Engineer A is employed by a large industrial company and assigned relate to the work of subcontractors, including review of the adequacy and acceptability of the plans for material provided by subcontractors. In this case, Engineer A gave his management supervisor the suggestion about the problem of one of the subcontractors.
Unfortunately, the supervisor rejected his comments because the supervisor found that he redesigned the proposal of the work of subcontractor. However, Engineer A still trusted in his opinion and continued his conflict with the supervisor. During that period, he needed to improve his performance, or he would be terminated.
Engineer A blowed the whistle to his employer because he considered the course of conduct was improper related to public concerns and he insisted that his employer had an obligation to insure that subcontractors deliver equipment according to the specification. However, Engineer A blew the whistle that was considered unjustified because he was upset that his employer did not accept his idea, therefore, his whistle blowing seems to be not for ethical duty but it becomes a matter of personal conscience.
National Academy of Engineering, A Whistleblowers faces the dichotomy of either choosing to be loyal to their organization first or to go externally for the better good. Given this dichotomy, whistleblowers may well encounter difficulties when they appeal internally or go public with information that may damage their companies.
So the question is, how does an organization create a culture that encourages employees to ask questions early? To point out issues and to show courage in confronting unethical or illegal practices? And then how can a company ensure that timely action is taken? In other words, how does an organization encourage internal whistle blowing? That is, to an authority within the organization, to preclude external whistle blowing and the resulting damage to an organization. As the previous section illustrates, whistle blowing to an external entity, such as the media or government agencies, has been a dangerous activity, both for the individual and the organization.
The ambivalent attitude toward whistleblowers ensures that, even with legal protection, they may face retaliation in subtle ways: being shunned by co-workers, being closely supervised, or just feeling separated. This section provides some best practices for encouraging employees to bring unethical or illegal practices to the forefront and addressing them before they become fatal to an organization. The objectives of an internal whistle blowing program are:.
The barriers to a successful internal whistle blowing program are:. Although companies should seek to remove these barriers, it is also important to acknowledge some further matters. What if the whistleblower is retaliating against a supervisor with false accusations? What if the whistleblower is bringing genuine problems to the fore but is also a subpar employee? In that case, does the whistleblower get a free pass just because he or she exposed an issue?
What should be done when it becomes clear that encouraging employees to bypass the proper channels is undermining management decision making? What if whistleblowers participated in the very actions they are now exposing, perhaps as a means of escaping the consequences of their participation? What if there is reason to suspect a whistleblower is targeting a specific employee because of his or her race, gender, or ethnicity? These are just a few of the issues to be considered in creating a whistle blowing culture.
A policy about reporting illegal or unethical practices should include. Setting up hotlines or simply having a business culture where employee feedback is welcome, it demonstrates to employees that it is safe to raise concerns. In addition, a clear connection should exist between an organization's code of ethics and performance measures.
For example, in the performance review process, employees can be held accountable not only for meeting their goals and objectives but also for doing so in accordance with the stated values or business standards of the company. Top management should demonstrate a strong commitment to encouraging whistle blowing. This message must be communicated by line managers at all levels, who are trained continuously in creating an open-door policy regarding employee complaints.
Have managers teach compliance, company values, and good ethics decision-making to their direct reports. The best way for managers to learn those things is to teach them, and the best way for employees to learn is to be taught by their own managers. Discuss ethics in regular staff meetings throughout the year. Find out employees' opinions about the organization's culture in relation to its commitment to ethics and values. Such teaching involves managers and employees in discussion of ethics issues in a safe, training environment, and it opens the door for safe discussion of real ethics issues in the future in their normal working environment.
To create a culture of openness and honesty, it is important that employees hear about the policy regularly. Top management should make every effort to talk about the commitment to ethical behavior in memos, newsletters, and speeches to company personnel. Publicly acknowledging and rewarding employees who pinpoint ethical issues is one way to send the message that management is serious about addressing issues before they become endemic.
Managers should be required to investigate all allegations promptly and thoroughly, and report the origins and the results of the investigation to a higher authority. For example, at IBM, a long-standing open-door policy requires that any complaint received must be investigated within a certain number of hours. Inaction is the best way to create cynicism about the seriousness of an organization's ethics policy. In the society and organizational world, citizens have the right of freedom of speech.
Organization should have policies and mechanism to check and balance the Whistleblowing. Choosing to keep silent in order to prevent consequences like losing job, and even in extreme cases die, should again consider some factors and must prepare accordingly.
Furthermore, as mention in a previous section above, organizations must be prepared and follow a series of managerial steps in order to prevent whistle-blowers from blowing the whistle. With the use of correct resources and procedures whistle blowing can always create loyalty base organizational environment.
A common legal definition of a whistleblower is someone, typically an employee, who discloses information, either internally to managers, organizational hotlines, etc. This definition captures two key points about whistleblowers. First, whistleblowers typically are current or former employees with direct, credible information about wrongdoing that they became aware of while on the job. Second, the concerns are serious and their disclosures reveal changes that must be made according to the law or in protection of the public interest.
Cultural biases, combined with the natural resistance from within organizations to those who challenge the practices of their employers, have led to several common misperceptions about whistleblowers.
Our experience working with thousands of employees of conscience refutes these beliefs with several important truths. Deciding to blow the whistle on misconduct requires an understanding of the potential risks. In order to improve your chances of successfully addressing the problem while minimizing the possibility of reprisal, ask yourself these questions first. If these questions show that disclosure is the right choice for you, we thank you for your bravery and are here to help guide you through the process if you need it.
Government Accountability Project works with whistleblowers throughout their entire disclosure process.
Here are some of the best practices we have developed over the years for each step of the disclosure process. Government Accountability Project publishes books, articles, reports, white papers, and guides to whistleblowing.
This page houses several resources about whistleblowing and our work. Science whistleblowers have historically functioned as one of the most powerful vehicles for exposing environmental, health, and safety risks, research censorship, gross mismanagement, and other abuses that undermine the missions of federal agencies to protect the public interest. This free guide seeks to empower and protect federal employees of conscience by offering guidance about their legal rights to blow the whistle and practical advice for making disclosures about wrongdoing in the safest and most effective ways possible.
The partnership between whistleblowers and journalists is essential to a functioning democracy. This free guide seeks to empower and protect journalists and their whistleblower sources by sharing critical information about their shared goals, responsibilities, and challenges.
This resource was developed to support advocacy groups that, in the course of working on issues across the social, economic, and environmental justice spectrums, might encounter employees who want to share important information to advance accountability.
The free guide offers practical guidance to help them protect and support potential whistleblowers while ensuring they are not inadvertently exposed to retaliation. Published by Government Accountability Project in partnership with Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and the Project On Government Oversight, Caught Between Conscience and Career is a free survival guide for public employees considering blowing the whistle on waste, fraud, or abuse while maintaining anonymity.
Whistleblowers can look to this guide for tips on how to avoid surveillance and make their protected disclosures have greater impact without incurring reprisal. Tom Devine and Tarek F. Maassarani This step-by-step guide details key information that potential corporate whistleblowers should know before, during, and after blowing the whistle.
State Farm Ethics Lecture, University of Nebraska Lincoln, September 20, Dana Gold, Government Accountability Project Director of Education, facilitates a conversation with whistleblowers Richard Bowen and Walt Tamosaitis on their decisions to blow the whistle, the retaliation they suffered, and the changes they saw their disclosures make. Gold has been an advocate for whistleblowers for close to three decades as an attorney, an academic, and a program director.
TEDx Wilmington Salon: Whistleblowers and the First Amendment, July 30, In this talk on whistleblowing as freedom of speech, Government Accountability Project Legal Director, Tom Devine, illustrates the historical impact of whistleblowers and the potential of their truth to positively shape society. Devine has assisted thousands of whistleblowers since joining Government Accountability Project in , and he won the first U.
Supreme Court test of the Whistleblower Protection Act in Clark founded the organization in and has received numerous awards for his long-lasting commitment to advocating for social and political change.
Assessment of the Implementation of the International Banks Whistleblower Policies September : Government Accountability Project examined the progress of five major international banks in implementing their whistleblower policies. The report seeks not to evaluate the existing policies but rather to assess their implementation; such assessment is necessary to determine if whistleblower claims are being resolved appropriately and moreover whether the policies are working as intended.
Protecting Science at Federal Agencies: How Congress Can Help November : Government Accountability Project collaborated with 11 other public interest organizations to record new and ongoing threats to the communication of science and its use in public health and environmental policy decisions, as well as recommending steps Congress can take in response additional blog post here. September : Preliminary report utilizing 30 court cases to assess the effectiveness of the comprehensive legal protections for whistleblowers, which South Africa adopted in Bush administration.
By detailing how officials systematically censored sensitive climate change information, this report presents a strong case for supporting and defending the USGCRP and the climate change impacts assessment process.
Consolidated Appropriations Act. The Current State of Whistleblowing Laws in Europe April : Details how very few European countries have enacted laws that directly protect whistleblowers in stark contrast to the United States, which offers a multitude of different protections for employees across corporate industries and government agencies.
Evidence suggests that the cleanup effort has been more destructive to human health and the environment than the spill itself. All the concepts set out exist in various employee protection statutes currently on the books in the United States or other countries. September : Analyzes the impact of the United nations internal justice system on accountability practices int he UN peacekeeping missions based on a review of two years of UN Dispute Tribunal and UN Appeals Tribunal judgments, and 36 interviews with key UN personnel, external attorneys and whistleblowers from eight different peacekeeping missions.
Whistleblower Witch Hunts December : Exposes illegal tactics widely used by federal authorities to silence employees who call attention to security lapses, dangers to the public, and abuses of power within their agencies. Department of State, was established and operated by Bush administration officials and appointees.
Read the Executive Summary here. Executive Summary in English. More importantly, this report proposes constructive reforms to the overall process. Running the Gauntlet: The Campaign for Credible Corporate Whistleblower Rights September : Surveys the dangerous landscape of corporate whistleblower laws, and recommends strategies for corporate whistleblowers to best protect themselves from further retaliation.
Fact sheet here. Citizens Environmental Monitoring and Technical Assessment — Los Alamos July : Details the elevated and potentially harmful levels of radioactivity that are present in environmental samples collected in the area around the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.
Redacting the Science of Climate Change March : Findings of a year-long investigation into political interference at federal climate science agencies. Atmosphere of Pressure February : Government Accountability Project and the Union of Concerned Scientists uncover new evidence of widespread political interference in federal climate science. Citizens Monitoring of Columbia River Radionuclides June : Scientific analysis of chemical contaminants finds previously unknown measures of radioactivity around the perimeter of the Hanford nuclear site in Richland, WA.
FAQ here. Resources Whistle. Blower T What is a Whistleblower? Survival Tips Resources About Whistleblowing. What is a Whistleblower? Myths About Whistleblowing. Myth 1: Whistleblowing is a crime. FACT: Disclosing evidence of wrongdoing is not a crime.
It is a legally protected right. The aggressive prosecution of intelligence community employees who have released classified information to expose illegal acts by the government and abuses of its authority has fueled a widespread belief that whistleblowing is a crime. Whether or not you agree with the actions taken by Edward Snowden or Chelsea Manning, national security employees who have released classified information dominate the public narrative about whistleblowing.
Like Daniel Ellsberg releasing the Pentagon Papers, these individuals were whistleblowers who, because the government did not have appropriate policies in place to allow intelligence employees and contractors to disclose important information, chose to commit a possible crime—revealing clearly marked classified documents—in order to report what they consider far more significant crimes.
Intelligence whistleblowers are unique, as they have very few legal protections and immense vulnerabilities. Most whistleblowers are not forced to risk breaking the law by disclosing classified information to expose wrongdoing because only a small percentage of whistleblowers work in the intelligence community. As a rule, unless public release is barred by statute, whistleblowers who disclose evidence of wrongdoing are engaging in a legally-protected activity.
Most whistleblowers disclose information about financial fraud, public health or consumer safety threats, environmental dangers, or other misconduct—information that is not classified. They are not operating in a national security context and have legal rights to report wrongdoing. In fact, since , there has been a unanimous, bipartisan legislative mandate for every whistleblower law enacted in the United States to encourage disclosures of serious concerns.
Myth 2: Whistleblowers are too quick to run to the press with their grievances. FACT: Almost all whistleblowers raise concerns internally first. First, it is important to note that employees who raise serious concerns internally to managers or through other internal channels are considered whistleblowers under nearly all whistleblower protection laws.
The vast majority of whistleblowers—over 95 percent—try to solve the problem internally first. Most employees have faith that raising legitimate concerns with their supervisors, an ombudsman, or through another internal mechanism, will resolve the issue.
Some employees spend months diligently attempting to achieve corrective action in-house. Myth 3: Many whistleblowers are in it for the money. When employees speak up, it is most often because they feel they are just doing their job.
They speak out because they have witnessed misconduct they feel must be addressed. Whether it is dangerous safety problems at nuclear weapons facilities, prescription drugs that should be recalled because they are causing deaths, or gross waste of taxpayer dollars on unnecessary defense contracts, whistleblowers generally just want to protect the public.
Some whistleblower laws, like the False Claims Act and the Dodd-Frank Act, offer whistleblowers a percentage of the portion of money recovered as an incentive for reporting. While these laws have been successful in encouraging reports of fraud, the chances of winning an award very small.
The Whistleblower Protection Act for federal employees and most non-financial whistleblower protection laws do not have award provisions. In our experience, most employees who feel compelled to speak out about wrongdoing explain that they had to act in order to remain true to themselves. Survival Tips. Thinking About Blowing the Whistle? Are you sure that what you view as misconduct qualifies as a protected disclosure?
Are you going to try to remain anonymous or go public? Would it be better to remain anonymous and continue to collect more evidence about wrongdoing?
What documents do you have? Are these documents easily understandable? Can any documents be traced back to you because they are uniquely marked or because only a few people have access to them? Have you raised concerns internally? Will that make you a target of suspicion as the source of the disclosure? Can you remain cool and calm at work when your colleagues bring up the disclosure? If you remain anonymous, will that give the wrongdoers the opportunity to cover up the problem or will it promote change?
Do you have a backup plan to support yourself and your family in case you are discovered? Do you want to remain anonymous forever, or are you willing to take part in some sort of public response to the wrongdoing? Do you have enough evidence? Will going public help you prove your case or make a difference?