Company, will you report it to proper authorities or not? While this question seems to be an easy yes or no type, some still consider this as a difficult predicament. The question tells a lot and requires the one who decides and answers a closer look to personal conviction, ethics, and consequences. This question demands either to side with any part of this bi-polar dilemma. Saying yes to the question is an act of whistle-blowing. When one blows the whistle, he/she makes a noise and calls the attention of authorities there are upon seeing something which is not normal or legal.
What really is whistle blowing? Is this justified? When can this be justified? This paper seeks to address these questions by first, understanding the nature of whistle blowing and second, taking stand whether or not is, in any way, justified. Whistle-blowing defined Technically speaking, whistle-blowing is the unauthorized public disclosure of privileged information by an employee to protect the public interest. This definition already sets the scope of the act. One, the disclosure has to be unauthorized.
It must not just be any ordinary official directive of the organization or simply, the organization must have seriously restricted the information to come out from the internals. Second, the act must be public. This means that the one who blows the whistle must call the attention of the public thru legal and public attentions such as government units, the police, the judiciary, and the like. Third, the information must be something that the employee has access to in relation to his/her job. It must not be something beyond his scope of responsibility.
Otherwise, it will eventually fall under hearsays or of weak basis. Whistle-blowing is the attempt by a current or former employee to disclose what he or she believes to be wrongdoing committed by an organization. If the employee just complains to someone inside the company, that is not whistle blowing, and the employee is not protected by the whistle-blower laws. However, the employee may be protected under other laws. For example, it is illegal to fire someone for complaining of sexual harassment or discrimination.
On legal perspective, it is not necessary that the employer actually broke the law. The employee could be whistle blowing on something that isn’t illegal in the first place. The employee is still protected from retaliation or termination. However, the employee must believe that he or she is reporting a violation of the law, and the employee’s belief must be reasonable. Hence, the act of whistle-blowing directly challenges the balance between an individuals rights and morals and his/her loyalty to his/her employer.
This opens the dilemma that one has to judge upon. Is this justified? If so, what instances/principles justify it? Whistle-blowing as Protection of Public Interest Perhaps, the primary question one should ask in assessing the dilemma is on the intention of the one does the act. Is the whistle-blowing done with the proper cause? Does one act in the greater interest of the public? Whistle-blowing is justified when it is acting in the public interest. Both moral and legal scope of public interest includes life, safety, environment, health, and resources.
While these remain to be vague, this already gives one a categorical idea on what he/she should uphold in doing the act. When the company, for instance, has been secretly dumping waste materials toxic materials in a public watershed that serves a good number of the population, a member of the company’s logistics or sanitation systems is challenged to call the attention of proper authorities. In doing so, he/she sees greater value in protecting the welfare of the public than in being instrumental to the company’s profitability. This is but a simple circumstance that show when can whistle-blowing be allowed.
But in its most general context, whistle-blowing is justified when a certain value which is way greater than the other is being chosen and realized. In this case, the greater value refers to the public interest, commonly translated as public welfare. Whistle-blowing based on Straight Facts Since this involves greater dilemma between two relative valid values, the act of whistle-blowing has to be based on straight facts. When we speak of straight facts, we refer to documents and evidences that will strongly warrant that an illegal or immoral act is actually being done by the group or the organization.
This is a crucial point that has to be considered since this may make or break the justifiability of the act. In the classic case, the whistle-blower discloses information to an outside authority, such as the press, regulatory agencies, public-interest groups, or the Department of Justice. What the whistle-blower discloses must be substantial. It cannot be mere gossip or speculation. In the classic case, the whistle-blower speaks up in order to avert harm that could be prevented.