Every year, thousands of Americans witness wrongdoing on the job. These workers discover waste, fraud, abuse or malfeasance that could jeopardize the lives of others, or well-being of the public. They may see food processing plants sending contaminated and dangerous meat to consumers, nuclear facilities in gross violations of safety protocols, a chemical company dump hazardous waste into rivers unlawfully, or accounting fraud that deceives thousands of stockholders.
Most employees remain silent, typically out of fear of losing their positions. Others choose to risk their professional (and personal) well-being and come forward with the truth. They seek to make a difference by “blowing the whistle” on unethical conduct in the workplace.
Our composite definition of whistleblower taken from combined state, federal and international cases is:
An employee who discloses information that s/he reasonably believes is evidence of illegality, gross waste or fraud, mismanagement, abuse of power, general wrongdoing, or a substantial and specific danger to public health and safety. Typically, whistleblowers speak out to parties that can influence and rectify the situation. These parties include the media, organizational managers, hotlines, or Congressional members/staff, to name a few.
A Timeline of Whistleblowers