1. Whistle blowing plays an important role in protecting the society from corporate misconduct. In the case of Berxta, the whistleblowers played a crucial role in saving peoples lives. Whistle blowing in the case ensured that the company producing Berxta did not continue to benefit from the sale of the drug at the expense of other people. The drug had presented health risks that could have not been detected without the efforts of the whistle blowers to expose the unethical practices of Pfizer. The whistle blowers ensured that the company returned to practicing ethically and within the law. John Kopchinski and others like him made it possible for law enforcement to detect and act on illegal practices that could have been missed if an outside investigation were to be carried out. In this regard, the negative effects of Berxta would have gone unnoticed for a long time leading to many health complications in patients and even death without the contributions of whistle blowers.
The benefits of the whistle blowers in the society cannot go without notice. This is especially because of the difficult decision people make when it comes to exposing illegal and unethical practices in the company (Pynes 89). To begin, whistle blowing often brings to an end wrongdoing that may have otherwise continued for a long time in the future. In the case of medical mal-practices such as the case of Berxta, the whistle blower has the best interests of the people using the drugs something that cannot be said for companies that manufacture and sell harmful drugs. In the case of infringement of labor laws, health and safety regulations among other violations in the work place, whistle blowers ensure that employee rights will be upheld if employers denied them these rights. If a company intends to cover up research revealing technical issues or other factors posing a danger to the unsuspecting public, whistle blowers may produce internal memos or other documentation to expose the defects in the products. Whistle blowing, therefore, seeks to uphold laws, reveal the truth, protect many people from the effect of unlawful activity and most importantly, prevent further possibility of illegal activity within organizations.
A top-down monitoring system aims at taking stock of a company’s operations from the high-level officials of a company to the bottom tier employees with an aim of detecting anomalies in the operations (Pynes 104). Whistle blowing in on the other hand is a situation where an employee privy to information suggesting unethical practices comes forward and alerts relevant authorities to deal with the situations. While top-bottom general monitoring systems may be effective in revealing anomalies in accounting matters, it is difficult for such systems to reveal any wrongdoing especially when they are not sure of what they are looking for. Worse still, these monitoring systems are carried out by external entities that may be digging through a pile of paper work without full knowledge of information they are seeking. Whistle blowing on the other hand is effective since the person claiming illegal activities within a company is an insider and actually understands how the company acts in carrying out its legal activities. A whistle blower is also more capable of coming out with accurate data since they do it out of a conviction to stop wrongdoing that probably end up hurting people.
2. People, who believe that the company they work for may be engaging in illegal activity, are often afraid of the retaliatory effects. It is important to assure whistle blowers of no retaliatory action will be taken by the company if they decide to come out and expose illegal activity. One of the most important measures in protecting whistle blowers is through legislation. In the United States for example, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 protect employees from retaliation. The laws provide for employee protection against the possibility or retaliation form the employer. The country’s Department of Labor and its constituents enforce several laws that directly protect a whistle blower or have provisions that shield employees form retaliation for reporting unlawful activities or for refusing to engage in illegal action.
Law enforcement should also use other means to protect whistle blowers for example by hiding their identity. This could be possible especially if the whistle blowers’ testimony is not crucial to the conviction of criminal activity by the company. This also ensures that the whistle blower gets to keep their job without the possibility of retaliatory action by management. A whistle blower may feel that they are jeopardizing their livelihoods by coming forward. To rest such fears, there should be provisions that ensure that an employee does not lose their source of livelihood by for example, offering compensation. In the case of Baxter, John Kopchinski received a huge amount as compensating for his efforts in stopping a dangerous situation. Compensation assures an individual that they will be safe from financial constraints if they decide to take the risk of exposing unethical activities within their organizations.
One thing should be noted, that even if one is guaranteed of maintaining their jobs, they are not protected from the treatment they are likely to face from other employees who believe that whatever they did was wrong. Therefore, it is necessary that whistle blowers be assured of getting jobs elsewhere and avoids the negative attitudes they may receive from colleagues in the work place. Before an issue goes public, whistle blowers more often than not raise their concerns to their superiors (Pynes 78). However, when these concerns are thwarted, an employee moves to the next step and exposes the matter to law enforcement and sometimes to the media. Companies should understand that it is in their best interest to listen o its employees concerns to avoid condemnation from the society. Companies should therefore make it easy for employees to report unethical behavior in the work place and act on it accordingly.
3. The negative repercussions of whistle blowing are many. For one, whistle blowers can be terminated from their work place. In as much as there are laws against retaliation, employers may cite other reasons for terminating a whistle blower. The whistle blowers may be considered as having betrayed other employees especially if they lose their jobs. It is possible for people to lose their jobs especially when the revelations have the potential of bringing down the whole company (Pynes 31). The whistle blower then has to live with the guilt of destroying the livelihoods of many despite the fact that whatever they did benefited many people in the process. It is also possible that a whistle blower will be considered disloyal and enhance stigma at the work place for them.
A whistle blower may be the subject of revenge. Colleagues may decide to use the whistle blower as a scapegoat and subject him to blame even though they had no part I the wrongdoing. In such a case, the whistle blower may lose the job without the chance or opportunity to clear their name of any wrongdoing. In small and close communities, a whistle blower and his or her family may be subjected to very aggressive treatment. This is because the people may think hat the person was acting out of self-interest. They may also think that the whistle blower stood to gain at their expense and hence the hostile treatment form neighbors. However, it is true that some people may want to take advantage of whistle blowing for their own interests. A whistle blower may initially have been part of unlawful activities in the company. However, out of greed, decides to sue the company where they stand to get a huge sum as compensation. The benefits of whistle blowing are important to the society, yet it is also evident that such action has no clear-cut boundaries in which we can say that whistle blowing is good or bad.
4. Whistle blowing is supposed to be an act service to the society and should not be a means through which people get rich. Pfizer agrees to pay 2.3 billion dollars in which John Kopchinski and others will receive over four hundred million dollars including a reward and a sum from other states. There actions deserve praise and gratitude. However, the gratitude should not be assigned such a huge sum. Such a big amount of money has the ability to destroy the essence of whistle blowing which is to protect the society from evils propagated by corporate entities and other organizations. This is because whistle blowers in the future may refuse to report unethical behavior because they may not be paid. In this sense, receiving such huge lump sums is in a way commercializing the act of honesty and moral uprightness.
It is not wrong to offer compensation to whistle blowers. In fact, the risk in taking on a corporate entity has the penitential of destroying one’s life, as they know it. The hazards are many. From losing one’s job, to being excommunicates from the community and worst of all no way of getting another source of income, compensation may be the only way to cushion the negative effects of whistle blowing. Nonetheless, people receiving such amounts of money for whistle blowing create a situation where people look for ways of bringing down companies in the hope of receiving enormous compensation. Companies risk employing people who are keen on destroying company reputations even when there is no cause for alarm with regard to unethical or unlawful activities in the company. It is good to compensate good deeds like whistle blowing in the community. However, society has to be careful not to overcompensate to a point where the moral authority of whistle blowing is questioned.
Pynes, Joan. Human Resources Management for Public and Nonprofit Organizations: A Strategic Approach. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2009. Print.