Whistleblowing

Whistleblowing is a form of dissent; dissent specifically against the wrongdoing of one's employer or fellow employees. A good example of whistleblowing is Frank Serpico who blew the whistle on his fellow New York Police officers who were involved in the taking of graft. A movie starring Al Pacino was made about Frank Serpico's experiences. See the links below for more information on Serpico.

Whistleblowers are protected by both federal and state laws. See Tracy Holtman's Whistleblowing Pathfinder for information on those laws.


Whistleblowing: a. Bringing an activity to a sharp conclusion as if by the blast of a whistle (OED). b. Raising concerns about misconduct within an organisation [sic] or within an independent structure associated with it (Nolan Committee). c. Giving information (usually to the authorities) about illegal and underhand practices (Chambers). d. Exposing to the press a malpractice or cover-up in a business or a government office (US, Brewers). e. (origins) Police constable summoning public help to apprehend a criminal; referee stopping play after a foul in football. (from http://www.pcaw.demon.co.uk/whistle.html)


Whistleblowing:

"Whistleblower: a person who engages in whistleblowing or, in other words, blows the whistle on wrongdoing; a dissenter from wrongdoing"

(the above taken from http://venus.soci.niu.edu/~sociclass/bmartin/dissent/intro/definitions.html)


"Risks of whistleblowing. Unfortunately, whistleblowing rarely works out well for the whistleblower. Joseph D. Whitson, a supervisory chemist at Brooks Air Force Base in Texas, says he was told to falsify drug tests. Some commanders would call him, he says, and give him names of people they "knew" were doing drugs. He was told to make the tests come up positive. At a 1984 drug trial, he was called to testify. On the day of the trial, just 1 month after he had received a nearly perfect performance rating, he was removed from his office and relegated to a dreary basement lab used for animal radiation testing. By January 1985, his job was abolished. Two years later, he was working as a mid-level government statistician. His wife was working part-time to help pay off his legal expenses." (from http://courses.ncsu.edu/CSC379/lectures/Lecture_12.html)

"A survey of whistleblowers was taken by Donald R. Soeken, a whistleblower himself. Out of 233 individuals polled, about 40% responded. Their average age was 47. They had been employed at their jobs for an average of 6.5 years before blowing the whistle. Almost all of those in private industry lost their jobs. Fifty-one percent of government employees lost their jobs. Eighty-two percent said they'd been harassed by superiors, and 69% said they were watched closely. Sixty-three percent reported losing some job responsibilities, and 60% said they were fired after launching their complaints. Almost 10% had attempted suicide. Only 20% felt that their actions resulted in positive changes in their workplace. But more than half of them said they would do it again." (from http://courses.ncsu.edu/CSC379/lectures/Lecture_12.html)


"I learned early on that silence in the face of wrongdoing only frees the arrogance needed to perpetuate it," says [Estelle] Levy. "I was young when I started speaking out, in the quest to save my chances in life. Later I became an advocate and have remained involved in advocacy."

After years of working as a special education teacher and social worker in the New York City school system, Levy blew the whistle on abuses of special education students. Her efforts triggered a forthcoming expose by New York magazine, and a reorganization within the special education department.

Levy's experiences have also made her an outspoken advocate for other local whistleblowers. She is currently taking legal action to help two Central Park employees regain their jobs after speaking out about mismanagement. (section on Estelle Levy taken from http://www.whistleblower.org/www/gapnews98.htm)


Discuss the laws in Texas on whistleblowing, the fact that Texas in one of only two states in which the employer has to prove themselves innocent of retribution.


Related Links To Read:

The Art of Whistleblowing --see quote above
Courage Without Martydom: A Survival Guide for Whistleblowers --an excellent article filled with good advice.
Serpico, Frank:
The Book about him
Police Brutality --quotes from Serpico
One Good Cop: Serpico's Back --recent news on him
Suppression of Dissent, Misconduct, and Whistleblowing
Whistleblower's Homepage for government employees
Whistleblowing: The Challenger Disaster --gives the story of the failure to blow the whistle and save the Challenger.
Whistleblowing City Engineer --a case study, with court records
"Whistle Blowing" from an ethical and Biblical Perspective, an article by a college student
Whistleblowing Outlets
Whistleblowing Pathfinder, by Tracy Holtman--an excellent pathfinder to the law, both Federal and Texas, on whistleblowing... includes links to federal and Texas statutes
Whistleblowing Solutions, Inc. --a company that will serve as ombudsman