Whistleblowing is a term used when individuals disclose information of wrongdoing or illicit activity within a company or organization. There have been some well-documented cases of whistleblowing over the years that have had effects on the organization and the individuals who come forth. However, it is often an act that brings some form of justice to those who are involved in the unscrupulous behavior.
For those who engage in whistleblowing on a company or organization, the stress can become overwhelming. Many whistleblowers remain at their place of employment after coming forward since it is illegal to fire someone for it. However, those people often experience symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia and headaches. In these types of situations, there are sometimes retaliatory acts against the whistleblowers causing them heightened stress and discomfort in their job. Stress can also be caused by being closely supervised or alienated by fellow employees.
Some people have been terminated for whistleblowing even though it is illegal. If you are terminated, you have to prove a whistleblowing violation. For example, an employee needs to prove that he engaged in a protected activity such as asking for overtime pay, reporting sexual harassment or applying for medical leave, and that the employer took action to prevent it. If you are fired for whistleblowing, it is within your right to file a lawsuit against the employer.
One of the effects whistleblowing can have on a company or organization is a lack of trust in the internal system. This can be counterproductive to a company if its employees start to become suspicious of the policies and behaviors of the employer. Whistleblowing can have adverse effects on a company if the employees believe that management is not held to the same standard. It can result in employees quitting the company.
There are also positive effects that can result from whistleblowing. It can change policies that benefit employees as well as other individuals. For example, in 1996 Jeffrey Wigand, a tobacco researcher, blew the whistle on the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation, claiming the company knew tobacco was addictive. The result was a change in public policy, as well as a change in public perceptions of the tobacco industry. This had a far-reaching positive effect on society as a whole.