Who Is a Whistleblower under the Law

Who Is a Whistleblower under the Law

The investigation of retaliation against whistleblowers under 23 federal statutes is the responsibility of the Directorate of the Whistleblower Protection Program[98] of the U.S. Department of Labor`s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).[99] [100] New whistleblower laws enacted by Congress and enforced by the Secretary of Labor are typically delegated to OSHA`s Directorate of Whistleblower Protection Program (DWPP) by order of the Secretary.[101] The OSC is not responsible for reprisal complaints from FBI employees. The procedures for dealing with allegations of retaliation by whistleblowers against FBI employees are different from allegations of retaliation by other Department of Justice employees. If you are an FBI employee, you can file a retaliation complaint with the Office of the Inspector General`s hotline or the DOJ`s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). The Office of the Inspector General or OPR reviews and, where appropriate, investigates complaints of retaliation filed by FBI employees. The OIG and the OPR report their findings to the Office of Prosecutorial Recruitment and Management (OARM) of the Ministry of Justice. For more information on the procedures of the OARM, see www.justice.gov/oarm/usdoj-oarm-fbi-whistleblowers. In October 2012, Barack Obama signed Presidential Directive 19,[72] after whistleblower protection provisions were removed from the Enhanced Whistleblower Protection Bill. It is designed to ensure that personnel working in the intelligence community or having access to classified information can effectively report waste, fraud and abuse while protecting classified information. The order prohibits retaliation against intelligence officers who make protected disclosures through domestic channels and establishes remedies for justified reprisals. The policy requires each intelligence agency to establish policies and procedures prohibiting reprisal and establish a process by which the agency`s Inspector General may review personnel or security screening decisions that would constitute reprisal. The policy also establishes a procedure by which a whistleblower can challenge an agency-level decision on a retaliation request to the intelligence community`s inspector general, who can then decide whether or not to convene a review committee of three inspectors general to review it.

The committee can only make recommendations to the head of the original body with which the complaint was first filed and cannot require the agencies to correct it. The Espionage Act of 1917 was used to prosecute whistleblowers in the United States, including Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning. In 2013, Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for violating the Espionage Act for leaking sensitive military documents to WikiLeaks. [103] That same year, Snowden was charged with violating the Espionage Act for publishing confidential NSA documents. [104] OSHA`s whistleblower laws prohibit employers from retaliating against workers engaged in activities protected by these laws. A FOIA request is the most valuable law that supports the actions of whistleblowers when a violation of the right to know has occurred. This type of request cannot be made anonymously and fees may apply. It may be advantageous if the request is made through an unaffiliated person, such as a union official or other member of the community.

The right to information is just one example of the many reasons why a FOIA request might be necessary to take legal action against a whistleblower. [34] The Indian government has been considering legislation to protect whistleblowers for several years. In 2003, the Law Commission of India recommended the enactment of the Public Interest Disclosure (Protection of Whistleblowers) Act, 2002. [79] In August 2010, the Public Interest Disclosure and Protection of Persons Making Disclosures Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Indian Parliament. [80] The bill was approved by Cabinet in June 2011. The Public Interest Disclosures and Protection of Persons Making Disclosures Bill, 2010 was renamed the Whistleblower Protection Bill, 2011 by the Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Complaints, Law and Justice. [81] The Whistleblower Protection Bill 2011 was passed by the Lok Sabha on December 28, 2011. [82] and by Rajyasabha on February 21, 2014. The Whistleblower Protection Act 2011 received presidential approval on 9 May 2014 and was subsequently issued by the Ministry of Law and Justice of the Government of India on 9 May 2014.

There is little research on the psychological effects of whistleblowing. However, bad experiences with whistleblowing can lead to a persistent and significant attack on employee well-being. When workers try to address their concerns, they are often met with a wall of silence and hostility from management. [34] Some whistleblowers speak of overwhelming and persistent distress, drug and alcohol problems, paranoid behaviour at work, acute anxiety, nightmares, flashbacks and intrusive thoughts. [35] Depression is commonly reported by whistleblowers, and suicidal thoughts can occur up to about 10%. [36] [37] A general deterioration in health and self-sufficiency has been described. [38] The range of symptoms shares many of the characteristics of post-traumatic stress disorder, although there is debate as to whether whistleblower trauma meets diagnostic thresholds. [39] An increase in stress-related physical illnesses has also been reported among whistleblowers. [37] [40] The burden of reporting can be enormous. Therefore, workers are always afraid to sound the alarm for fear that they will not be believed or that they will have lost faith that something will happen if they speak out.

[41] This fear may well be justified, since a person who feels threatened by the whistleblowing may plan the professional destruction of the “complainant” by reporting fictitious errors or rumours. [42] This technique, known as “gaslighting”, is a common and unconventional approach used by organizations to manage employees who cause problems by voicing concerns. [43] In extreme cases, this technique involves the organization or manager suggesting that the complainant`s mental health is unstable. [44] Organizations also often seek to ostracize and isolate whistleblowers by undermining their concerns, deeming them unfounded, conducting inadequate investigations, or ignoring them altogether. Whistleblowers can also be disciplined, suspended and professional associations can be denounced under fabricated pretexts. [45] [46] As whistleblowers continue to voice their concerns, they are increasingly at risk of being disadvantaged as dismissals. [47] After dismissal, whistleblowers may find it difficult to find alternative employment due to reputational damage, poor references and blacklists. The social impact of whistleblowing due to loss of livelihoods (and sometimes pensions) and family responsibilities can also affect the psychological well-being of whistleblowers. Whistleblowers can also experience immense stress due to disputes over disadvantages such as unfair dismissals, which they often face with imperfect support or no union support.

Whistleblowers who pursue their concerns can also experience lengthy battles with official bodies such as regulators and government agencies. [45] [46] Such bodies can replicate the “institutional silence” of employers and increase the stress and hardship of whistleblowers. [48] Overall, some whistleblowers experience major injustices that may never be acknowledged or corrected. [44] Such extreme experiences of threat and loss inevitably cause severe suffering and sometimes mental illness, sometimes lasting years later. This abuse also deterres others from raising concerns. Thus, bad practices remain hidden behind a wall of silence and prevent an organization from knowing the improvements that are possible through intelligent failure. [35] [48] Some whistleblowers who separated from their organizations were interviewed, such as Adrian Schoolcraft, the NYPD veteran who claimed to falsify crime statistics in his department and was forcibly committed to a mental health facility. [49] Conversely, the emotional burden of a whistleblower investigation is devastating to the accused`s family.

[50] The No Fear Act stands for Notification and Federal Employee Antidiscrimination and Resaliation Act and was enacted in 2002. It discourages federal managers and supervisors from engaging in unlawful discrimination and retaliation, and holds them accountable if they violate anti-discrimination and whistleblower protection laws. It was found that organizations cannot be effectively managed when federal organizations practice or tolerate discrimination. The main objective is to pay compensation for discrimination and retaliation from the agency`s budget. Most whistleblowers are internal whistleblowers who report misconduct by a colleague or supervisor within their company through anonymous reporting mechanisms, often called hotlines. [11] One of the most interesting questions about internal whistleblowers is why and under what circumstances people act locally to stop or report illegal and otherwise unacceptable behavior. [12] There is some reason to believe that individuals are more likely to take action regarding unacceptable behaviour within an organization when there are grievance systems that offer not only organization-dictated options for planning and control, but also a choice of options for absolute confidentiality. [13] The employer`s obligations under the No FEAR Act are as follows (requires annual training):[65] Recognition of the public value of whistleblowing has increased over the past 50 years.