WrongDoing and Whistle Blowing
Literally,whistleblowing is the act of a person exposing any form ofinformation or acts which are considered unlawful, immoral, or notright within the firm, which is either private or public. Theinformation and facts that are being brought out can be placed in anumber of categories. They involve going against the organizations’laid down regulations and acts that may pose a threat to the publicinterests and safety. In addition, corruption and fraud cases alsofeature under illegal acts that are exposed by whistleblowers.Whistleblowers can use either the external or the internal platformsto voice their allegations (Dyer, 2013). Internally, one can make useof fellow employees or stakeholders within the organization.Externally, they may use the media, the legal firms, or thegovernment structures. In this paper, I am going to focus onwhistleblowing and why employees should not be afraid to report anyillegal acts since there are laws that protect them.
Mainargument for thesis
Asfrom the 1960s, the aspect of whistleblowing has increasinglyreceived recognition. Within this period, the fears that were amongemployees to face discrimination at the place of work wereeliminated. Whistleblowers are no longer afraid to expose actions andinformation that is illegal within their work setup. Several actshave been enacted to protect the whistleblowers. Most of these actsbroadly vary for instance, a number of them are only applicable topublic workers while others are applicable to employees in theprivate sector. Even in cases where acts are missing, severaldecisions have been made to urge and defend them on the basis ofpublic interests. For instance, the False Claims Act within thefederal government will always recompense any employee who reportsthe companies any actions of fraud carried out by any companytouching the government business (Dyer, 2013). With this in picture,employees should, therefore, report any forms of unethical acts sincethey are protected.
Relevantevidence can be drawn from the case of Karen Silkwood who was anemployee at a plutonium plant and at the same time a union activist.Her responsibilities included polishing of the iron rods that werepacked together with radioactive plutonium pellets. It was while herethat she came into contact with the union world. Since Silkwood wasamong the members of the bargaining committee of the union theresponsibilities of investigating on the health and safety issuestouching on the plant were basically under her. This created theplatform for her as a whistleblower to expose any acts that posedthreat to the health of individuals within the plant.
Inregard to this, in the summer of 1974, Karen reported to the Atomicenergy Commission thatshe had realized that plant violated severalhealth and safety regulations that had been put in place (Kohn,2010). She provided concrete evidence that touched on spillage,leaking, fuel rods that were faulty and adequate missing plutoniumthat could be used to manufacture nuclear weapons. The evidence shetabled also brought out clearly how the company was using falserecords of inspection. This act of whistleblowing, which exposed theunethical behaviors of the plant, culminated into a number of issues.
Thefirst instance was during the normal routine check that was carriedout on 5thNovember 1974 that found out that she had been unprotected to morethan 400 times the allowed limit of plutonium (Kohn, 2010). Furthertests showed that she had plutonium contamination up to the lungs.She, nonetheless, asserted that she had been intentionallycontaminated due to his whistleblowing actions against the plant. Onthe other hand, the plant maintained that she deliberatelycontaminated herself to taint its name.
Shewent public on November 13 using all evidence at her disposal thatshowed the violations of the plant (Kohn, 2010). Unfortunately, onher way to meet the national representatives of her union to tablethe issue her car lost the way and crashed. She died on the spot andthe documents she was supposed to present were never found. Thecontroversy and publicity that surrounded her death led to closeinvestigation of the plant by the federal government which found theallegations to be true. This led to the closure of the plant in 1975.Her family also filed suit against the company for negligence whichresulted into her being contaminated with plutonium.
Proponentsof the loyal agent argument will totally disagree with the moves thatKaren Silkwood took as a whistleblower. According to them, anemployee is an agent of the employer (Marichal, 2015). And as anagent, Karen has an obligation of acting as per the interests of thecompany she is serving. She is supposed to work under the setupdirections and safeguard the confidential practices of the plant atall costs. In this regard, her actions portray an untrustworthyagent. It is also clear that her actions are contrary to theideologies of a faithful agent.
Theygo further to assert that obedience is the key virtue an agent shouldpossess. As in this case, Karen had a responsibility of obeying theorders set within the company. Undeniably, as an agent, she was notrequired to do anything like exposing the illegalities within theplant. The responsibilities of any employee are tied to therequirements of the relationship. In fact, the employee is notsupposed to do anything outside the boundaries of her employment. Inthe case study, Karen goes beyond the scope of her employment. Infact, she makes more use of her affiliations to the Union rather thanher obligations as a loyal employee.
Theloyal agent theorists maintain that an employee should in allconditions remain faithful to the employer. Even if the employer istreading on illegal grounds, they are supposed to spearhead theinterests of their employers without question. They should restrainthemselves to their dictated roles within the organization.
Theargument of the loyal agent theorist sparks some questions. Do theyreally understand the meaning of the term loyalty? Putting aside theidea of an employee being an agent of the employer, whistleblowersare not in most cases disloyal in the literal meaning of the termdisloyalty. For instance, if loyalty is taken as the act of theemployees remaining committed to the justified objectives and themotives of any organization, then it is clear that majority of thewhistleblowers are loyal to their organizations. On the sociologicalground, whistleblowers like Karen are faithful employees. This is dueto the fact that they expose the unethical acts within their premisesbelieving that they are playing their stipulated rules and they arefor the good of the company`s interests (Marichal, 2015). Sociologists argue that employees choose to voice the illegal actionsor to leave the organization in cases of dissatisfaction. On thecontrary, according to them, those who speak out are usually theloyal employees when compared to those who exit. Undoubtedly, Karenis a loyal employee.
Iwill also defend the whistleblowers on the basis human rights andpublic interests. The loyal agent theorists do not consider thethreat that some of the actions may pose to the public. Nonetheless,they are only satisfied with the loyalty of the employee even whenthe employer is against the human rights.
Theaspect of whistleblowing has sparked debates as from the discussionabove. Whistleblowing involves acts of exposing confidentialinformation held by an organization that is deemed unlawful. Fierceobjections have been raised by individuals who draw from the loyalagent theory. They totally disagree with the aspect ofwhistleblowing. Nevertheless, it is good to note that whistleblowersare protected by laws and the interests of the public and employeesshould never be afraid to expose any acts of misdoings within theirworkplace.
Dyer,C. (2013). Hospitals must set up effective arrangements forwhistleblowers, independent commission says. BMJ:British Medical Journal,347(7935),1.
Kohn,H. (2010).WhoKilled Karen Silkwood? NewYork: Summit Publishers.
Marichal,C. D. (2015). Private Sector Florida Whistleblower Act OppositionClaims: Is An Actual Violation Required To Be Engaged in StatutorilyProtected Activity? FloridaBar Journal,89(8),65-68.