A Whistleblower is a person who reports any inappropriate wrongdoings when seen in their surrounding work atmosphere. Whistleblowing may cover those grey areas in the corporate and political world such as internal discrimination, dangerous work condition and unethical work principles. If you are planning to start a new business or an existing leader, do learn from the past ramifications of famous Whistleblower examples to avoid dilemma and financial penalties.
In the simplest terms, a Whistleblower is a person who reports abuse, waste, corruption or danger to the public to those authorities who are in a position to analyse and take actions against the wrongdoing. Typically, you will find a Whistleblower working inside a company or a community where chances of wrongdoing are huge. Though, it is not necessary that the ‘insider’ essentially serves other company as a Whistleblower. What is more important for a Whistleblower is to decide upon the information that is wrong or otherwise create an adverse effect on greater people.
Although the above definition implies that every person working must have a sense of reporting like a Whistleblower, you must understand that certain guidelines need to be followed instead of relying on the simple definition. The Whistle-blowers have to adhere to certain norms and procedures under which they are recognised as formal whistle-blowers.
For example, in the U.S. dozens of whistle-blowers laws have been established by the Federal, local and state agencies that range from Antarctic Conservation Act to False Claim Act and Clean Air Act. However, every law has unique guidelines and procedures. To become a Whistleblower, you need to abide by the country’s law that provides strong financial and legal protections to support whistleblowing.
How is a Whistleblower protected?
To indulge yourself in the whistleblowing process, you must follow the whistleblowing rules as applicable to your industry. Although the root cause behind whistleblowing is noble, if you get involved in it, you may face certain risks such as financial risks or false allegations. This is the reason most of the countries has their Whistleblower Center that suggests how whistleblowing can be done or how a Whistleblower can appoint an attorney before attempting to whistle-blow information. One of the most secure ways is to seek assistance from legal defense systems associated with Whistleblower laws. Additionally, you can have a look at the whistleblowing guidelines book that has been provided by the nation’s whistleblowing attorney.
Why do it?
Thousands of individuals whistleblow globally every year when seeing tax fraud to bad accounting to illegal wildlife and pollution. The crimes reported not only have a significant impact on the company shareholders, taxpayers and the government but also makes it extremely difficult for the law enforcement bodies to identify on their own. This means, without whistle-blowers, such crimes may get unnoticed.
One of the most important things necessary in today’s corporate world is ethical culture promotion. The commitment to perform ethically is one of the main drivers that make subordinates perform effectively. When whistle-blowers take heed, an idea is promoted in the workplace that caring must be the priority that may take place before profits sometimes.
Top Whistleblower examples that shocked the world
Frank Serpico was a New York-based police detective and a Whistleblower who took a step to expose the New York City Police Department in the year 1971. Serpico was the first-ever man in the history of the New York Police Department that came forward to reveal and testify against the wrongdoings in the police department. He was awarded as one of the highest honors by the New York City Police Department with a Medal of Honor. Later in 1973, a film based on his heroic deed was made where the role of Serpico was played by Al Pacino.
The Enron scandal is probably known to the whole world as the company suffered from the biggest scandals worldwide to date due to its Vice President Whistleblower, Sherron Watkins. Sherron wrote a letter to her boss about the fraud accounting taking place in Enron that equated more to Ponzi Scheme than a publicly listed traded company. She asked her company to take strict actions. After five months, her letter became public and became an instrument for the national outrage against Enron along with the accounting firm held by Arthur Anderson. Despite congressional scrutiny and pubic outrage following the whistleblowing act, Sherron continued to work for Enron without being accused of anything.
Alayne Fleischmann was a security attorney working at JP Morgan Chase. In her entire work duration with the company, she witnessed various fraudulent activities that resembled securities fraud. When she decided to take action, Fleischmann found it difficult to get a new job although she had good qualifications. This was the time she took help from lawsuits and media that made JP Morgan Chase settle with Fleischmann to secure the fraudulent activity details. She received $9 billion when the case was settled later.
Jeffrey Wigand, another Whistleblower was the VP of a tobacco company named Brown and Williamson. He whistle-blowed that his company used high nicotine levels in the cigarettes to make them addictive. Wigand was however sued by his company as he breached the firm’s confidentiality agreements. The suit was settled later in the court. In 1999, a film named Insider revealed his story and was played by Russell Crowe.