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Whistleblowing and Retaliation

What is Whistleblowing?

Simply put, whistle blowing is the reporting of misconduct of an employee or superior. Misconduct can range from minor issues, to complex, corporate-changing deeds of bad behavior and leadership. Employees are often reluctant to report suspected misconduct because they fear retaliation from those that are engaged in the misconduct. Whistleblowers are protected by law as long as the complaint they make is in the public interest, they believe it is true and they are telling the appropriate person.

Why Whistleblowers are important?  

Most organizations desire honesty from and among its employees. The presence of honesty allows for complete dedication to the organization’s mission and success. By encouraging a whistle blowing culture, the organization promotes transparent structure and effective clear communication. More importantly, whistleblowing can protect the organization’s clients. Employees are in a better position to know what their colleagues are doing and employers should have mechanisms in place to encourage their employees to report wrongdoing. By promoting a whistleblowing culture within the organization, employees will feel comfortable speaking up when necessary. That’s why whistleblowing laws are important. Whistleblowing is a complex area of the law and any allegation of wrongdoing from a whistleblower is likely to be fiercely defended. You need to ensure that you protect your own interests and that you are contacting the correct authorities to make any disclosure

Whistleblower Protection Act

The Whistleblower Protection Act was passed in 1989 to strengthen the rights of and improve protections for federal employee who report misconduct committed within the government. The law prohibits officials within government agencies from taking adverse personnel actions against you for blowing the whistle on misconduct such as gross waste of funds, gross mismanagement, abuse of authority, or illegal activity. Many laws that regulate certain activity contain whistleblower protection statutes to protect people who report violations of those laws. For example, the Clean Air Act protects employees who report violations regarding air emissions, while the Sarbanes-Oxley Act protects employees of certain companies who report securities fraud and similar misconduct. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enforces many of these whistleblower protection statutes, but you should keep in mind that you have a limited amount of time in which to file a retaliation claim

Here are some tips for promoting a whistleblowing culture:

  • Create and publicize a whistleblowing policy.
  • Emphasize communications about bans on retaliation for whistleblowing activities.
  • Top Management must demonstrate the inclusion of whistleblowing in the culture.
  • The organization’s commitment to whistleblowing must be emphasized and promoted.
  • Follow through with a complete investigation after a whistle blowing event.
  • Discuss with employees their personal thoughts on topics to make sure everyone has a similar mindset.

Clear communication is key to building an organization where employees feel comfortable raising their concerns. In a positive work environment, organization goals are foremost, allowing employees to focus on the success of the organization and its members. Whistleblowing is an essential tool for an organization. Without it, fraud, misconduct, and failure may dominate an organization. By promoting clear communication and keeping the organization’s goals in focus for everyone, one can minimize their chances of being the next Enron.

 

Do you have a whistleblower complaint?

Contact us at The Law Office of Luis Cartaya, PA  to meet with an experienced attorney for a confidential case review.

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