It would be wonderful if you could wish it all away any time you face an unpleasant obstacle in life. However, most people understand that this is almost never a viable option. Five board members of Michigan's Clay Township want to make the town's legal obstacles disappear and have asked a court to make it happen.
With all of the media exposure that comes with whistleblower activities of today, it can be easy to forget that speaking out can make a real difference. Many people choose to look at whistleblowers in a more negative light instead of for the good works they have done. We have seen that this viewpoint affects the willingness of those who witness wrongdoing to blow the whistle.
On the face of it, the Michigan Whistleblower's Protection Act seems simple and straight-forward. For the most part, it is simple, but many potential whistleblowers need clarification on some of the act's elements. Those who do not properly understand the act might choose to remain silent in the face of wrong-doing despite the protection's the act provides.
If you believe in the old adage "where there's smoke, there's fire", you might be concerned to find that a Michigan city and its mayor have been targeted in not one, but two whistleblower suits. The city is Flint and the mayor is Karen Weaver. Two former employees are calling Weaver and the city out for illegal and/or unethical activities. The first suit was filed almost a year ago by a former Flint city administrator and is still pending.
Not all whistleblower success stories involve start-to-finish litigation. Sometimes success comes when the parties responsible for unethical or illegal activity pay without seeing the trial through. In addition to the financial costs these wrongful parties incur, their activities are called into question in full view of the public eye. In the end, that is what success means: Paying the price for illegal activity in every way.
It is a great and noble thing to expose wrongdoing on the corporate level. Let's be real, though: It is also a dangerous endeavor in some situations. If you are like most Detroit residents, you need and value your job. You do not want to lose your livelihood even though becoming a whistleblower is absolutely the right thing to do. Why should you risk taking security away from your loved ones just to expose wrongdoing?
Despite belief to the contrary, employers in Detroit cannot treat their workers however they like. Employers do have some leeway in how they manage employees, but laws are in place to ensure workers remain protected from certain behaviors. Retaliation against whistleblowers is one of these prohibited behaviors.
Why is "blowing the whistle" about corruption so important? Any time companies, employees or supervisors engage in illegal activity, it harms the economy. This is just as true in the Detroit region of Michigan as it is in New York City. Unfortunately, there is a stigma attached to whistleblowers that may make other people afraid to come forward. The risk of retaliation in the workplace is also a deterring factor for would-be whistleblowers.
You have probably heard the phrase, "no good deed goes unpunished." This often-used phrase exists for a reason: Because it is true in many cases. One of the times when it is painfully true is when an honest and well-meaning employee decides to blow the whistle on illegal activity in the workplace.
In February 2013, the general counsel of a biotech company called Bio-Rad Technologies was concerned. He had been general counsel for the firm for 26 years, but now he suspected that someone from Bio-Rad may have given kickbacks to Chinese government entities and delivered products to certain Chinese customers without billing them. It seemed the company might have violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.