It has been observed that there is a collapse in ethical standards which are vital for the establishment of a humane society. It is evident that the standard of ethical behavior among individuals who control political and economic power is dwindling. Again, the collective sense of responsibility to stand out and speak against injustices and wrongdoing has also been eroded. The public sphere, ownership, welfare and service are impoverished and seem to be dead. The moral core of the society is being ransacked and everything is being converted into money equivalent in compliance with the harsh economic rationalism rules.
Whistle blowing can only be comprehended within this context of ethical decay.A whistle blower is any individual who out of own volition exposes significant transgression in a given occupational role. He or she is in most cases motivated by perceptions of public good. These disclosures are made to an agency which is capable of conducting investigations about the complaints and correct any existing mistake. The whistle blower however suffers accordingly for exposing such information. A striking feature of whistle blowers is their resistance to ethical decay. An objective view of a highly complicated issue of public interest is threatened by people’s familiarity with wrongdoing (Maria, 2002). The community has a superficial view of both aspects.
Questions such as how official and corporate wrongdoing affects the society are central to public interest disclosure analysis. However, the most important question is what becomes of the whistle blower after identifying and reporting an element of wrongdoing.Sarbanes-Oxley Act gives an impression that the government wanted to make whistle blowing an important part of its enforcement mechanism.
By guaranteeing anonymity, the act serves to encourage and protect whistle blowing. It also defines the channels for whistle blowing besides imposing penalties on individuals and organizations that retaliate against the whistle blowers. However, these provisions do not effectively guarantee protection for whistle blowers as there is evidence that there has not been any whistle blower who has been successful in pursuing remedies after suffering retaliation under this act. Their plight is processed through a system that is by nature unfriendly to their lot.
Whistle blowers act as detectors and controllers of wrongdoing even though they suffer so much for their moral stands. They are often tortured, sacrificed and exposed so that they may serve as examples to the would-be whistle blowers especially in the present benighted world. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 followed in the footstep of several other whistle blowing laws which were enacted to protect whistle blowers especially after various scandals and wrongdoings which characterized large corporations and government departments. Whistle blowers were integral in exposing these wrongdoings and currently they play a greater role in the enforcement of the Sarbanes-Oxley act.According to the act, a company cannot discriminate, threaten or fire a whistle blower who reveals information to an authority capable of investigating and correcting the wrongdoing. The whistle blower does not necessarily have to be correct in order to be guaranteed protection. They only need to hold a belief that the information they have revealed is a secret violation of ethical codes. For anonymous whistle blowing, a section of Sarbanes-Oxley Act requires that companies establish procedures where an employee can forward issues concerning questionable acts.
It also requires that that the committees set procedures for handling and retaining the reports.For an individual who reports a suspected wrongdoing externally to be guaranteed protection, he or she must forward the information to a law enforcement agency or to a federal regulatory. However, whistle blowers who resort to reveal the information through the media are not under the protection of the Sarbanes-Oxley act. Domestic and foreign legislators do not always trust such whistle blowers even though they are also driven by a sense of moral responsibility.
This kind of whistle blowing is not normally encouraged.The right to bring a civil suit by a whistle blower who has suffered retaliation is provided by a section in the Act. Even though there is much bureaucracy involved as the employee must first file his or her complaint with the Labor Secretary who further refers it to other offices fir investigation. If the employer shows by convincing and clear evidence that an action would have been taken in the absence of whistle blowing, forwarding of the case is stopped. This however poses grave consequences for the whistle blower as his or her status within the company will not be the same.By running up against the organization or company, an individual risks destruction. Companies in most cases tend to destroy any evidence of wrongdoing and this portrays the whistle blower in a negative way.
As much as there are legislations which serve to protect the whistle blower, no adequate protection is guaranteed. However, regardless of the amount of protection that the society offers, whistle blowers are pushed by their desire to expose the truth and not expecting any reward for it. They often feel it their responsibility to act in the interest of developing a just and righteous society.ReferenceMaria, W. D.
, (2002) Deadly Disclosures: whistle blowing and the ethical meltdown. Wakefield Press