When Do We Blow the Whistle?
May 9, 2010 11 Comments
When we notice something that we think is unlawful or unethical at work we have to investigate its integrity. We should also investigate why the employer would do unlawful or unethical act. Whistle-blowers sometimes blow their whistles too early and get themselves in trouble. Whistle blowing is ” the disclosure by organization members (former or current) of illegal, immoral, or illegitimate practices under the control of their employers, to persons or organizations that may be able to effect action” (Peeples, Stokes, & Wingfield, 2009, p. 468).
Miceli and Near (2002) stated that the wrongdoing would be terminated when it is less serious or deeply rooted. Whistle blowing can be more effective if the whistle –blower have power and can communicate to the right people (Miceli & Near, 2002). A single incident like overhearing a supervisor or noticing a violation by the organization might not be worth reporting, although we are obligated ethically to report it. Understanding the reason for the unlawful or wrongdoing would help the whistle-blower to find alternative solutions or means to do the same job without violations.
Good reasons for whistle-blowing would be increasing safety, stopping wrongdoing, receiving monetary rewards, and eliminating perceived injustice (Peeples, et al., 2009). The whistle-blowing is an act of loyalty to the employer because it will benefit the employer in correcting the wrongdoing or improve the workplace safety and general condition. But, the whistle-blower should do that after exhausting all means to correct the wrongdoing by using internal means. The whistle-blower should balance his decision by weighing the severity of the act, the motive of the wrongdoer and the degrees of control assigned to the wrongdoer (Peeples, et al., 2009). The US Department of Labor estimated that only15% of the whistle-blowing cases have value, and 85% of the whistle-blowers incurred high costs for their decision to blow the whistle (Peeples, et al., 2009).
Miceli, M. P., & Near, J. P. (2002). What makes whistle-blowers effective? Three field studies. [Article]. Human Relations, 55(4), 455.
Peeples, D. K., Stokes, P., & Wingfield, S. S. (2009). When the whistle is blown: Legal defenses and practical guidelines for managing reports of organizational misconduct. [Article]. Business & Society, 48(4), 467-488.