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What is whistleblowing?

Whistleblowing is when an employee tells someone (typically in a position of power) about actions that are illegal, hugely wasteful or fraudulent. An employee may disclose to a manager (or government or news outlet) company mismanagement, abuse of power or dangerous activity that is going on, has happened or is planned to happen.

Whistleblowing can be internal: The employee tells a manager or boss,  or external: The employee tells law enforcement or the media. 

Three examples of whistleblowing

While there are numerous examples of what could be called whistleblowing these three help give a clearer picture. 

  1. An employee notifies the newspaper or company managers about the company illegally dumping toxic waste.
  2. A government employee notifies her higher ups about contractors selling faulty equipment to the government or military. This may involve bribes, embezzlement or kickbacks.
  3. A financial professional tells his manager that the company is involved in insider trading, or selling the wrong products to customers (for example selling people in their 90s life insurance policies that won't mature for 20 years). 

Whistleblowing in construction 

While wrongdoing can happen in any industry it does happen in construction. Because safety is an issue and lives may be at stake, employees or workers often feel compelled to come forward. 

4 common issues in construction

  • The company does not bill correctly for labor and materials
  • The company does not follow safety regulations
  • The company does not pay workers promised or legal wages
  • The company does not follow the contract or agreement to use union or non-union employees 

The history of whistleblowing

Whistleblowing is not a new concept. In fact, back during the Civil War president Abraham Lincoln encouraged citizens to "blow the whistle" on cases of fraud against the government.

The problem starts when the company does not follow the rules. It grows when the company tries to cover up the illicit activity or  retaliates against the whistleblowing employee. In cases of workplace retaliation an employee is advised to seek legal counsel. 

 

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E.L. Law Firm

E.L. Law Firm
1000 SW Broadway
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Portland, OR 97205

Phone: 503-446-6092
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