Whistleblowers are people who witness unlawful or unethical behavior at their workplaces and decide to tell authorities and others about it. In most cases, people who “blow the whistle” on their employers receive more difficulty and headache than they do fame and notoriety, but sometimes, a whistleblower could go down in history.
Here are two examples of famous whistleblowers from recent history:
Edward Snowden is the most notorious whistleblower of the recent past. As a government contractor who worked for the National Security Agency (NSA), Snowden acquired access to a lot of classified government information that showed the United States was spying on private citizens and maintaining a secret global surveillance system. Unfortunately, Snowden was not able to gain whistleblower protection under federal law, and he was charged with Espionage Act violations. Ultimately, he fled the United States to seek political asylum in Russia.
Jeffrey Wigand served as the vice president of research and development at Brown & Williamson Tobacco Co., the third biggest tobacco firm in the United States. Wigand lost his job because he didn’t agree with the chief executive officer (CEO) of the company about the ingredients it was putting in its products. Later, he revealed on 60 Minutes that his former employer was increasing the amount of nicotine in cigarettes so that they would be more addictive.
These are just two famous whistleblowers from history. If you have witnessed something untoward or unlawful at your workplace and you want to “blow the whistle,” you may want to learn more about your legal rights and protections before doing so.