Associated Press: Japan Whistleblower Wins in Supreme Court in Nation First as Judge Dismisses Olympus Appeal
In a notable first, the Supreme Court of Japan has sided with a corporate whistleblower. The decision by the Court, in a culture that is widely regarded as valuing corporate positions over that of labor, was anticipated for over a year.
The whistleblower (Masaharu Hamada) worked at camera and medical-device maker Olympus, and was retaliated against after exposing wrongful behavior by colleagues. This case is not to be confused with that of Michael Woodford, the former Chief Executive of the same company who blew the whistle on wrongful accounting practices, and recently settled his case for over $15 million.
Key Quote: Hamada’s story highlights how workers labeled as misbehaving are punished in Japan, where major companies like Olympus offer lifetime employment, although they more freely fire contract and part-time workers.
That means employees like Hamada become targets of cruel harassment designed to silence them or make them quit. Hamada was nearly driven to breakdown during his five-year battle.
Japan is behind some Western nations in protecting whistleblowers. A law to protect them was enacted only in 2006, and critics say it is inadequate because it does not penalize companies that punish whistleblowers. To pursue legal action, whistleblowers can’t quit as the law only applies to employees.
Only a handful of whistleblower has come forward in Japan in the past few decades. When they do, they are treated as outcasts, sometimes being told to sit in closet-sized offices or to mow the lawn. Sometimes even their children become victims of discrimination. So abhorred is the employee who dares to question the company.
The New York Times: He Felled a Giant, But He Can't Collect
Despite winning a wrongful-dismissal/retaliation case against Countrywide/Bank of America in February 2011 for $3.8 million, whistleblower Michael Winston has yet to receive the settlement as the company continues to appeal.
Winston, "an executive with decades of expertise in management strategy," contends he was "pushed out for refusing to follow questionable orders from his superiors." Since being let go by the company in 2008, and despite his impressive resume and experience, he has been unable to find work.
GAP represents Countrywide/Bank of America whistleblower Eileen Foster, who won the 2012 Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling.
Forced Labor in Walmart Supply Chain: Guestworkers Blow the Whistle!
Guestworkers hired from Mexico to work at a U.S. Walmart seafood supplier claim they have been forced to work up to 24-hour shifts and faced retaliation for raising concerns, including physical threats to their families. GAP's Food Integrity Campaign reports.
D.C. Still Unprepared for a Severe Thunderstorm, Despite Billions in So-Called "Homeland Security"
In this blog post, GAP National Security & Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack strongly criticizes the federal government structure for disaster accountability, in lieu of the inadequate handling of the power outage in Washington DC resulting from a Friday storm (hundreds of thousands of residents are without power). Disaster Accountability is a focus of the National Security & Human Rights program.
Asbury Park Press: Wall Man Says IRS Owes Him Whistle-Blower Reward
Yet another story about a whistleblower reporting that the IRS whistleblower rewards program is inadequate, and does not distribute rewards properly. One man expecting a reward as restitution for a sour business deal remains in limbo four years after a whistleblower claim was filed regarding massive tax fraud.
Dylan Blaylock is Communications Director for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.