Famous whistleblowers such as Sherron Watkins of Enron have been hailed as brave souls who alerted the public to corruption and sought to protect colleagues from an unexpected downfall of a company. However, the corporate environment often values loyalty so highly that people who speak up about such problems suffer a number of personal, professional and financial turmoil. These consequences must be expected and prepared for when deciding to blow the whistle.
In U.S. states with at-will employment laws, employees can be fired for any reason that isn't an illegal one. This means that a whistleblowing employee may be terminated for nearly any other reason. If laws do not exist in that location to specifically protect whistleblowers, an employee may not have strong legal recourse against the termination. Additionally, an employee retained after event may experience difficulty in future promotions or could face demotion.
After the whistle has been blown, employees may continue their careers with the same organization but face awkward social surroundings and stilted relations with their superiors. Even when the dust has settled, whistleblowers may be given less responsibility or access to company information and colleagues may feel disinclined to cooperate with them or share any negative news.
Government employees and workers in certain industries and locations are protected from job loss, slander lawsuits and other litigation problems. However, in the aftermath of reporting corruption or inappropriate activities occurring in the corporate environment, an employee may be exposed to lawsuits related to confidentiality agreements or other aspects of employee contracts. If the company fires the employee, a legal battle may also ensue to regain employment.
Damage to Employer
Whistleblowing often causes financial turmoil and public relations problems for the employer. As in the Enron scandal when employees' stock options became endangered, whistleblowing may ultimately prove beneficial for the individual and her colleagues. However, potential drawbacks like profit loss and lowered stock values can negatively impact the whistleblower and other employees financially and professionally. Weighing the moral issues and long-term consequences of speaking up are often at odds with what seems best for the company at the time.
Whistleblower Protection Act
A person earns the designation as a "whistleblower" when, as an employee or member of an organization, she reveals knowledge of wrongdoing...
The Effects of Employee Turnover
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Whistleblowing occurs when an internal member of an organization reveals misconduct from within to other members of the company or to the...
The Effect of Employee Attitude on Productivity in the Workplace
The attitude of employees affects their productivity in many ways--and often without the awareness of the employees themselves. While positive attitudes generally...
The Effects of Whistleblowing on a Business
Whistleblowing is a term used when individuals disclose information of wrongdoing or illicit activity within a company or organization. There have been...
Five Ethical Dilemmas Faced by Employees in Whistle-Blowing
Have you ever caught a fellow employee or manager acting against company policy? Many employees who see illegal action against their company...
Reasons for Whistle-Blowing
Whistle-blowers call attention to wrongdoing within governments, public agencies, corporate giants and small businesses. Some speak out against threats to public safety,...