Thursday, April 28, 2011

Our ten point process for protecting yourself from retaliation

Whistleblowers are crucified. In every country.   An Australian researcher notes:  “Consistent case …evidence indicates that whistleblowing, even when acknowledged to be meritorious, typically results in victimisation of whistleblowers” (Peter Jubb .JBE, 21). C. Fred Alford,in a US study  Whistleblowers: Broken Lives and Organizational Power paints an even more horrendous picture of the damage suffered by whistleblowers

This page outlines our suggestions on approaches to minimising the damage you could suffer if you expose a wrongdoing in your organisation without first carefully thinking through how you prevent damage to yourself

1. Determine what protection you have in the legislation

There is no effective protection for Commonwealth employees. Current public sector legislation covers only employees in state government service. For your state legislation see whistleblowing legislation in Australia

In the private sector, whistleblowing is protected only for offences against the Corporations Act or the Workplace Relations Act. See Private sector coverage. Contact one of the independent hotlines listed elsewhere on this site and determine if theywill forward yor complaint


2. For State Government employees, read the State Act that covers you.

Particularly note those provisions that provide you with protection from retribution. Also note what you can reveal, and to whom it can be revealed. It varies from state to state. Finally, make sure that what you are considering revealing is sufficiently in the public interest and serious enough to warrant the difficulties that it will cause you and the authorities who will investigate it.

3. See if you can find others in your organisation who are willing to support your evidence

and go along with you to any meetings you may attend relating to the matter.

4. Talk your intentions over with you family and close friends.

Listen to the advice you  receive, Work out a strategy that you believe will win 

5. Gather as much evidence as you can of the dishonesty that you intend to reveal.

Take notes; make photocopies. Remember that the person or organisation to which you make the revelations, or the Ombudsman’s office, will need to investigate your complaint. To convince them to take you seriously requires you to present them reasonable and as far as possible, independently supported evidence. State acts will protect you if you collect evidence that is internal to the organisation. They will also protect you against the breaking of confidentiality clauses in employment agreements.

6 . Seek independent advice

Contact us to discuss your situation.
Go to any  support body in your state and talk your actions over with them.
See our page containing links to external independent whistleblower services
See if someone can find the time to come with you as a support person and a witness. Make sure they know the act too.

7. For small cases, see if you can expose the wrongdoing without confrontation.

Go the highest person organisationally that you will feel comfortable with and who you believe will work in the interests of the organisation. Some organisations appoint a whistleblower contact for making your complaint. For high level large scale illegal behaviour, go outside the organisation, to the ombudsman or corruption authority if you are able. Ask that your name be kept confidential if you wish it . Note that the legislation will not guarantee complete confidentiality, for investigating the complaint may reveal who made it, but you can request confidentiality during the early stages of the investigation. Place the emphasis of your disclosures on the wrongdoing in the organisation, not on any harassment or ill-treatment that you have received.

8. Be prepared for rejection and retaliation from within your organisation.

It will be very unusual if it does not come. Senior managers will resent the implication that they have been ineffective, some of them may even be involved in the wrong doing; and colleagues will resent you as a threat to the security of the organisation. If the harassment continues, record all details and threaten legal action. If necessary, sue. Most state acts give you the right to do so. Or seek a new job. Early consideration of this possible need will probably be in your best interests.

The retaliation is often nasty, subtle, difficult to combat and not obviously tied to the whistleblowing.

9. Keep notes

Document every act of harassment that is taken against you even if it does not appear to be connected with your whistleblowing. As far as possible try to anticipate the harassment. It could come from an unexpected quarter.

10. If the harassment continues,

Determine what other relief your act offers you (relocation for instance). Complain to a higher level if possible, but in the final analysis, seek legal advice and take action for damages. If you complain about harassment, place your emphasis on the public interest disclosure; any harassment or ill-will is a result of that disclosure. Also follow up on the investigation of your complaint, as most jurisdictions are obliged to tell you what is the outcome.

And finally, if you do not win, if the wrongdoing is covered over, and no action is taken, try not to allow any sense of injustice to dominate your life. Remember that you have had a personal moral victory in making the disclosure. Attempt, as far as is possible, to recreate a new life and a new job.


At April 28, 2011 at 10:08 AM , Blogger artful said...

I love the fact that you are not only discussing whistleblowing acts, and the underlying principles, but that you have stepped up and are supporting with advice and counsel. You're a great role model. Would that our great corporations acted with equivalent moral convictions, but you can't have everything, I guess.


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