Whistleblowers face conflicting ethics. An employee who witnesses wrong doing on the part of their employer must weigh decisions carefully. On one hand the infractions of their employer have negative impacts on the public interest. On the other hand the employee, constrained by confidentiality policies, face disciplinary action and retaliation from their employer if they expose the wrong doing.
This ethical dilemma is not an easy issue to grapple with. Confidentiality clauses, written policies, are expressly agreed to by the employee. The conscious agreement creates a powerful motivation to keep one’s word. Then when factoring in the added possibility of retaliation or disciplinary action employees have a hard decision to make.
Jean Kumagai in his blog post The Whistle-blower’s Dilemma, talks about the steep price whistleblowers pay when doing the right thing. His experience working with whistleblowers reveals that it is very rare that a whistleblower does not experience retaliation and a loss of employment. Yet he states the import role of the whistleblower in society: “And yet, an open society relies on those who are willing to come forward and reveal wrongdoing.”
State and Federal laws passed provide protection for whistleblowers but vary greatly in those protections depending on jurisdiction. The Whistleblowers Blog provides great resources for individuals facing these complex issues.
Unfortunately, my Tribe a sovereign government, does not have any laws passed to protect Tribal employees from whistleblower retaliation. It is one area I would encourage the Tribal Council to take action upon to ensure sound ethics.