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A Penny for Your Thoughts?

Posted on: September 21st, 2011 by Larry

No one likes a tattletale. That’s one of the things that makes whistleblowing difficult.

A whistleblower is someone who speaks out about illegal or dishonest activities in a company, government or other organization. It always takes courage to speak out when you see wrongdoing, but the stakes in the corporate world are especially high – whistleblowers are risking their reputations and their ability to make a living.

Just ask Jeffrey Wigand. He blew the whistle on the tobacco industry’s practice of manipulating tobacco to increase the amount of nicotine in cigarettes. His testimony led to the landmark 368 billion dollar settlement between the tobacco industry and attorneys general from 40 states. Though there was a great personal cost for his actions, he says of the experience, “I did what was right…have no regrets and would do it again…We were just ordinary people placed in some extraordinary situations and did the right thing…as we all should do.”

If a law that recently took effect were in force in 1997, Wigand might be a multi-billionaire today. This new law provides for monetary rewards to whistleblowers of up to 30 percent of recovered funds in some cases. Read more here. As you might expect, more whistleblowers are coming forward.

  • It may be the right thing to blow the whistle on wrongdoing, but why should someone risk their job, reputation and way of life? How much would you risk to do the right thing?
  • You may not have been a witness to major wrongdoing, but have you ever seen someone cheat or cut corners at work or school? What did you do?
  • Does the incentive plan make sense to you, or will it invite false claims from struggling employees?