Key characteristics of a whistleblower
Whistleblowing is usually a disclosure by a person, mostly by an employee in a government agency or private enterprise, publicly addressing those in authority about either mismanagement, illegality, corruption or any other wrong acts. People who act as whistleblowers are often at risks of been retaliated by their employers. That is why whistleblowers exhibit strong personality in valuing people’s welfare. They are determined to fight no matter the consequences the whistleblowing effects may have on their job security and the company’s reputation. They arecourageous, truthful and confident to the extent of exposing misconduct. The most key feature of a whistleblower is the ability to take careful measures meant for tackling retaliation (Hamid, 2015).
For instance, in March, 2016 a whistleblower sued Volkswagen for firing him after trying to stop the company from deleting information that was relevant to the U.S authorities, who were investigating the excessive emission by its cars. According to the report given by Sueddeutsche Zeitung, a German newspaper, the employee for Volkswagen in Michigan who was working in a data Centre, claimed that the company went ahead and deleted data for weeks after been ordered by Department of Justice on September, 18 to stop deleting. Daniel Donovan, the whistleblower, added that the IT department declined to allow procedural routine by Jones Day, the law firm that was in charge of investigating the issue, to fully and freely access the company’s system. The company, however, tried to defend itself after their spokesperson responded to the suit claiming that Mr. Donovan initiatives were not related to their diesel emission issue and that his claim of wrongful termination was not true.
The head of Volkswagen’s Group admitted that the company had installed hidden software to hide the fact that its diesel vehicles were emitting up to 40 times which defaulted the maximum amount of nitrogen oxides emissions allowed. He reported that the manipulation was done without his personal knowledge. He abruptly resigned after filling the suit in March, 7 that the employee’s dismissal was against Michigan’s laws on the protection of whistleblowers. These law suits have caused Volkswagen to face steep declines in American sales. According to Environmental Protection Agency and Justice Department, the company is subject to penalties for equipping diesel vehicles with software that interfered with emission tests. The company is also working on how to fix almost up to 600,000 diesel vehicles that are still on roads in the U.S and using the illegal software.
Justification of the whistleblower
Mr. Donovan whistleblowing was justified by legal authorities taking actions against the company. After investigations, the company was discovered to have breached the American Air quality rules and also obstructing justice.Mr. Donovan took rightful action for reporting this unlawful situation and should be entitled to compensation for saving the environment from the accumulation of these gases that is harmful to people’ health and the environment as well. Though the situation is so unfortunate to the company, the benefits the public gets out of the information outweighs the company’s benefits and reputation. The fact that the excessive emission of these gases by the company is been looked up to is enough to justify Mr. Donovan’s actions as harm previously done to the environment will be reduced. The company was exposed and is supposed to pay penalties for breaching laws which is a justification as legal action is taken accordingly.
Protection of whistleblower under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act
According to Yeah (2015), The Sarbanes-Oxley’s Act of 2002 (SOX), advocates for the protection of corporate whistleblowers. Its criminal, administrative and civil protections are considered to be the most important whistleblowers protection laws.Mr. Donovan is protected by SOX’s provisions which provide a legal remedy for employees who get terminated wrongfully. Among the four other provisions provided by SOX to whistleblowers protection, Mr. Donovan is protected by the provision which states that any employer who retaliates a whistleblower as a result of providing truthful information is subject to the federal obstruction of justice and is criminalized. There is also a section in SOX clause that charge penalties to those institutions that violet SOX including provisions relating to whistleblowers. As the act outlines, the whistleblowers are allowed to file complain to the U.S Department of Labor if their jobs have been terminated wrongfully.
For the SOX’s whistleblowers provisions to prevail, the employee should provide evidence proving that, he engaged in protected activity, he knew that the activity was protected, he was treated unfavorably for his actions and finally, he is supposed to provide evidence that the protected activity contributed to the unfavorable treatment. In my opinion, though whistleblowers are covered by these protective provisions, every case is subject to investigations to validate these claims and which may depend on how the whistleblowers distribute the classified information. However, the provisions ensure the whistleblowers are protected before any judgment is made. The purpose of the provisions is to encourage whistleblowers to come forward and uncover offences (Bagley, 2015). It is also a very ethical and mindful act of any person who takes the responsibility to uncover wrongdoings done by publicly traded companies for corrections.
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