Whistle on top of an open notebook

Employees often know about trouble well before management. Whistleblowers are employees who bring those problems into the light. Their knowledge can help a business solve problems and avoid further issues. Organizations should encourage reporting, and ensure that whistleblowers do not face retaliation for doing so.

Whether you are updating your organization’s whistleblower policy or you have received a report and need to react, BERC’s practical guidance and examples can help. Scroll down to select a resource, or click on Examples or Practical Guidance on the right.

Examples

Employees Who Report Discrimination are Legally Protected

I cannot say this enough to employers: Punishing an employee who participates in an EEOC charge will only multiple your…

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How whistleblowers change history

Kelly Richmond Pope, TEDxDePaulUniversity Whistleblowers change the course of events. In this TEDx video, fraud researcher and documentary filmmaker Kelly…

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The dangers of willful blindness

Margaret Heffernan, TEDxDanubia A whistleblower may take substantial risks--professionally and personally--to reveal serious problems. But sometimes, managers and the public…

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Practical Guidance

Employee Activities Protected by the EEOC

The federal Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws prohibit punishing job applicants or employees for asserting their rights to be free from employment discrimination, including harassment.  Asserting these rights is called "protected activity," and it can take many forms.  For example, it is unlawful to retaliate against applicants or employees for: filing or being a witness in an EEO charge, complaint, investigation, or lawsuitcommunicating with a supervisor or manager about employment discrimination, including harassmentanswering questions during an employer investigation of alleged harassmentrefusing to follow orders that would result in discriminationresisting sexual advances, or intervening to protect othersrequesting accommodation of a disability…

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OSHA Whistleblower Protection Programs

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has the power to enforce many whistleblower protection laws. This authority includes many laws, such as the Affordable Care Act, that might not seem to relate to the administration's traditional role. The laws OSHA enforces contain whistleblower anti-retaliation provisions. These laws generally provide that employers may not discharge or otherwise retaliate against an employee because the employee has filed a complaint or exercised any rights provided to employees. Each law requires that complaints be filed within a certain number of days after the alleged retaliation. Complaints may be filed orally or in writing.…

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Whistleblower Policy Pointers

Managers may be the last to know about an ethics issue in the business. It is important to give employees a way to alert management to potential problems without fear of retaliation. When establishing a whistleblower policy, consider the following: Whistleblower Reports are a Gift While bad news is never enjoyable, it can stave off worse news down the line. An internal report from an employee gives management a chance to find and remedy problems, reducing business risk and regulatory consequences. Provide Anonymous Reporting Employees are more likely to speak up about a problem if they can do so anonymously.…

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5 Tips for Helping Employees Raise Ethics Concerns

Businesses can take a few simple steps to create an environment where employees feel more comfortable raising critical ethics concerns. What do your employees know that you don't? Every businessperson would like to believe that their employees would readily approach them with any ethics concerns in the workplace. But the reality is that many ethics concerns go unreported until it’s too late. To flag ethics concerns early, here are a few specific steps that businesses can take to ensure that employees feel safe coming forward with issues or concerns. 1. Emphasize having a “speak up” culture Many problems can be…

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