Dr. Robert E. Lofton
2 June 2008
Whistle-blowing in the workplace: Do we stand by and allow business corruption as usual or prepare to take a fall for something?
It sometimes requires uncommon courage, as whistle-blowing in the workplace is not so easy to do. What motivates you? Is it revenge, ethics or a combination? To take a closer look, let’s consider what is whistle blowing and explore a few conditions used to justify whistle-blowing, and concluded with how companies can benefit from a whistle-blowing policy.
What is a whistle-blower or whistle-blowing?
Let’s make it clear that informers and snitches are individuals, who reveal information for personal enrichment or a means to get at others. However, whistle-blowers like Bobby Boutris a Federal Aviation
Administration employee are generally conscientious people who expose some wrong doing, often at great personal risk such as death threats.
Whistle-blowing is the voluntary release of nonpublic information, as a moral protest, by a member or former member of an organization outside the normal channels of communication to an appropriate audience about illegal and/or immoral conduct in the organization or conduct in the organization that is opposed in some significant way to the public interest.
Given the high price that whistle-blowers sometimes pay, should people really be encouraged to blow the whistle? Yes, Boutris testified that there was too cozy of a relationship between an FAA supervisor and the airline that allowed Southwest to fly damaged planes. He mentions six of the planes had a crack in their fuselage and multiple cracks, ranging from one inch to three-and-a-half inches long. In this statement, it became clear the airline flew unsafe planes. The reality is as a loyal passenger thinking nothing of a routine flight from Washington DC to Los Angeles, a once relied route of transportation, is the end result that could have been fatal. Even though whistle-blowing can be justified in some situations, it sadly remains that courageous employees who perform a valuable public service are often subjected to harsh retaliation. Ironically for this particular case, Laura Brown, an FAA spokeswoman, told CNN that the administration has
taken action and that a supervisor who was in charge of overseeing Southwest is "no longer in a supervisory position."
Is whistle-blowing of corruption and mismanagement in government and industry the best way to correct these faults? To explore this question, we would have to consider a few conditions for justification of whistle-blowing.
Thousand of employees lost their employment, retirement benefits and saving plans while corporate officers ran off with the company wealth, making an ugly dent in the history of the Corporate Sector in USA. A coverup of corporate greed is an appropriate situation for disclosure because people’s lives are at stake. First, we need to ask how serious is the situation of sufficient moral importance to justify whistle-blowing? When employees discover unethical, immoral, illegal transactions or potentially damaging information for the well being of the workplace in which they are employed, they are expected to disclose this sensitive information to an authority in the hierarchy through a formal/informal mechanism. Even with the moral importance of the situation, there should be consideration for the extent of harm directed in result of the activity, in which the whistle-blowers protests. An accountant at the now defunct Enron resigned after inaction by its CEO, as a consequence of exposure
related to large scale of accounting irregularities. It is safe to say that an alarm was sounded having a huge domino effect on corruption displayed in companies such as WorldCom and Tyco.
Secondly, whistle-blowers must have all the facts and they must properly understand their significance. For example, a pharmacist claimed he was...