Whistleblowing can be described as the disclosure of illegal, immoral, underhand or unlawful transactions, deals or practices of their employers or companies to people, institutions that are most likely to take action. What sets whistleblowing apart from other types of disclosures such as a tell-all is that it is made for the purpose of reporting wrong doing in a company or organization to an agency or person that can take some actions. Whistleblowing is gaining popularity at such a fast pace and more people are coming forward with dirty deals of their companies in the hope that something can be done about it .The reasoning behind whistleblowing is that the rights and interests of the public are hampered and interfered with by organizational abuses that go against the accepted societal norms and may breed inefficiency if something is not done about it (Weinstein, 1979).
Organizations that encourage a culture of whistleblowing by their employees have been known to be more transparent characterized by free employee communication and trust. The benefit of this is that wrongs can be easily detected and it also promotes an ethical work environment (Berry, 2004) .However, whistleblowing is not an easy thing that anyone can do especially in an organization. It always come with consequences that may not only affect the whistleblower but often those he cares deeply about such as spouse and children.
It takes a very ethical person to stick out his neck and reports some wrongdoing in an organization (Weinstein, 1979). Because whistleblowing is by itself an act of disloyalty to the management and it takes a great moral and ethical commitment for someone to go against the grain to lift the lid on a string of wrongdoings and unethical practices notwithstanding the retaliation that is likely to accompany such an audacious acts. Some employees have been skipped for promotion, demoted or fired because of whistleblowing.
Another characteristic of a whistleblowers are known to have a rebellious streak in their character. As Glazier &Glazier (1987) puts it whistleblowers are those who defy their superiors in government or industry and are motivated by greater national issues that need to be brought into the limelight. Such sensitive issues may include: government waste and fraud, racism and racial profiling, police brutality, production of unsafe cars and dumping of toxic waste. Most people would choose to keep quiet, conform or turn a blind eye because the risk is too great to contemplate whistleblowing.
As stated by Weinstein (1979) whistleblowers are selfless people because often their intention to disclose evil and wrong doing transcends their own narrow selfish interests to create a novel and ideal way of running organizations and doing business.Realising the great consequences their actions may bring upon them but they decide national interests are bigger and helping to preserve those interests is for the greater good.
Liu Meng-Li an employee of Siemens China, a subsidiary of German corporation Siemens AG, also listed on the New York stock exchange. Li had been working with the company since 2008 as healthcare compliance officer (HLR, 2014).LI believed that the company was inflating its bids for medical supplies to China and North Korea and paying kickbacks to some officials to accept those bids. He raised the issue with his supervisors at the Siemens but he noticed there was reluctance or unwillingness to take any action. He kept pressing his employers hoping that something will be done but they responded but limiting his responsibilities at the company hoping to silence him but his insistence eventually led to his firing. That is the price that Li had to pay for his disclosure though Siemens did not face any sanctions by the second circuit court but the damage suffered to its image is substantial (HLR, 2014) .Most companies would want to be thought as ethical and working in the best interests of the vast majority but this revelations doesn’t help Siemens as far as its image is concerned.
I believe that Mr. Liu Meng-Li was justified to disclose the bribery and fraud suspicion to his supervisors and from the manner he did his disclosure you can be sure that no malice was intended for he could have chosen to spill the beans to the press but he chose the diplomatic way hoping that the management is ethical enough to take action and rectify the situation but his disclosure only served to make matters worse for him.
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002(SOX) is one of the most important pieces of legislation that is aimed at protecting whistleblowers; it has very wide provisions that covers both civil and criminal cases. According to this act Liu would have been effectively covered and protected. For instance section 301 of the SOX to establish audit committees that are in turn expected to establish procedures of looking into employee complaints about issues to do with accounting, fraud and bribery. With such a committee in place the concerns raised by Mr. Liu would have not have been swept under the carpet.
Secondly, the act also provides provision and protection for employee whistleblowers against unfair dismissal besides there is a legal remedy for those who have unfairly discharged from their duty because of whistleblowing. Siemens, being a publicly traded company ,listed on the NW stock exchange Mr. Liu should and needs to be protected against unlawful dismissal by his employers and he should also be redressed because of being jobless because he was fired.
Finally, whistleblowing both internally and external is for public good and more people need to be encouraged to come forward and disclose information about prevailing unethical and immoral practices in both government and industry so that remedial action can be taken.
Berry, Benisa. 2004. Organizational Culture: A Framework and Strategies for Facilitating
Employee Whistleblowing. Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal 16(1)
Glazer, Myron Peretz and Penina Migdal Glazer. 1987. Pathways to Resistance: An Ethical
Odyssey in Government and Industry. Research in Social Problems and Public Policy 4:
Harvard Law Review (2015). Liu Meng-Li v. Siemens AG at
Weinstein, Deena. 1979b. Bureaucratic Opposition. New York: Pergamen.
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LEG 500 ASSIGNMENT 1 Employee whistleblowing.docx