While many people dream of being the boss, it is those without control who usually have the best vantage point. They see what is meant to be seen, and also what is not. Unfortunately, those at the top have more to lose and are more afraid of coming forward. This is why whistleblowers rarely come from upper management. A whistleblower is someone who exposes the unsavory practices of an organization. These misdeeds can be either against the law or simply dangerous. In the past, whistleblowers have come forward from within businesses, politics, and even religious organizations.
The idea of whistleblowing is, actually, a very old concept. There are several examples throughout history, literature, and film of people challenging the unspoken misconduct of those in power. They are often represented as the hero. However, as our society becomes more advanced, the number of whistleblowers, in general, have increased. Modern technology has led to a higher level of transparency. People are no longer expected to blindly trust the leaders within their community. This makes sense because of the amount of information of which the average person now has access. Nearly every detail of an organization, from employees to policy, can be researched by using something as small as a smartphone.
Why It Happens
Whistleblowing, in general, is not an easy undertaking. This action is almost always fueled by an uncomfortable moral disparity between a company and an employee. When an employee can’t abide shady business practices, breaking laws, or even unfair treatment in the workplace, they are often compelled to either take a stand or leave. Most people are more inclined to avoid confrontation and take the relatively safe route of finding somewhere else to work. Very few will choose to take a stand or report problems. These few whistleblowers hold a great amount of power as they can affect considerable change within a corporation. But how does one person stand against a business safely?
There are laws in place to protect whistleblowers, such as the Whistleblower Protection Act and OSHA statutes. Many businesses and organizations also have some sort of whistleblower policy. These rules protect employees from retaliation in the event that something offensive is uncovered. Another element of this policy can include a hotline for an employee to call which protects their identity. Some examples of possible retaliation can include harassment, demotions, and termination. However, there are other, more subtle, ways to create a hostile work environment. If an employee feels they have been singled out or harassed, there are also whistleblower protection law firms like Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto, LLP. These attorneys are experienced in handling cases that involve retaliation.
Whistleblowers are not necessarily corporate spies or undercover reporters. More often than not, they are regular people who just want to do their jobs and go home. However, if someone feels the need to speak up, they should feel comfortable doing so. There are many different resources available to help with this situation as well, such as Human Resources or the specialized law firms mention earlier. These individuals can inform someone, in detail, of their rights and present a solid course of action.