Whistleblowers

December 5, 1997 • Volume 7, Issue 45
Are they heroes or disloyal publicity hounds?
By Charles S. Clark

Introduction

Former New York City Det. Frank Serpico testified in September at City Council hearings on proposed legislation to monitor police corruption. He exposed police corruption in the city in 1970. (Photo Credit: Reuters)
Former New York City Det. Frank Serpico testified in September at City Council hearings on proposed legislation to monitor police corruption. He exposed police corruption in the city in 1970. (Photo Credit: Reuters)

Organizations that commit fraud, make unsafe products or pollute the environment no longer risk exposure just from critics, regulators or the press. Increasingly, wrongdoing in government as well as the private sector is being brought to light by employees who go outside the chain of command to “blow the whistle.” When allegations prove true, the whistleblower is hailed as a hero, and sometimes richly rewarded, though often after poor performance reviews and dismissal. Without such vindication, however, whistleblowers come across as irresponsible “snitches” who value personal aggrandizement over team-playing. The federal government and many private employers have set up elaborate procedures for weighing whistleblower claims and determining which view applies.

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