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Never Assume Anything About Whistleblowing

Whistleblowers have played a big role in national news over the last couple years. With whistleblowers making up more headlines than ever before, from the #MeToo movement to the Ukraine scandal, there has been, in turn, increased analysis of whistleblowing behavior and awareness on the part of the general public of what it means to blow the whistle.

One question that often comes up when more people begin blowing the whistle is whether the increased whistleblowing activity is indicative of an increase in criminal activity. This is an understandable assumption to make, but it’s important not to assume anything, and to carefully assess each situation individually. Instead, as was the case with the #MeToo movement, it could very well be that there’s not an increase in misconduct, but an increase in people who are willing to speak up about their experiences.

Here are a few takeaways for employers in this modern era of whistleblowing to keep in mind when considering their own internal reporting and investigatory systems.

  • More whistleblowers is always a good thing: If the alternative is people being scared to come forward or report issues that exist, then it’s always better to have more whistleblowers. Companies with more whistleblower complaints are actually likely to have fewer lawsuits and fines. More whistleblowers is indicative of a strong company culture that values transparency and integrity.
  • Trust secondhand reports: Secondhand reports have a lot of value to employers. You should not assume that because they’re secondhand they’re unreliable. In fact, studies show secondhand reports lead to more enforcement actions than firsthand reports, which tend to be more self-serving or minor in nature.
  • Don’t ignore small reports: Just as you shouldn’t assume secondhand reports are unreliable, you also shouldn’t skip over reports with little information. These employees often don’t want to give everything they know right away, because they’re worried about whether or not they can trust their superiors in charge of the investigation. Usually if you show you can be trusted, they’ll be able to provide more evidence.

For more information about whistleblowers and avoiding letting your assumptions get the better of you, contact an experienced whistleblower lawyer at Kardell Law Group.

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In his new book, "Standing Up to China: How a Whistleblower Risked Everything for His Country," former client & Author, Ashley Yablon, quotes Attorney Steve Kardell about Whistelblower Law.
  • "Steve Kardell was terrific in representing me in some very adversarial discussions with Citigroup and also later represented me in my testimony before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission."  -Richard Bowen, Citigroup Whistleblower

  • "Incredible knowledge of employee related concerns and equally brilliant knowledge of health care regulations, standards of practice. I would recommend this firm to anyone."  -V.B.

  • "Reaching out to Steve Kardell was the best decision I made. His ability to provide immediate insight and direction was very powerful, and a huge relief during a very stressful time period. For anyone struggling with a whistleblower situation, I would highly recommend at least speaking with Steve. After a 10 minute call with him, I had a better understanding of what I was dealing with. Even better, he gave me some immediate hope. In the end Steve did a better job than I thought was possible. Steve was able to get in contact with people in my organization, that I didn’t have access to. Because of his years of experience, he already has contacts in many organizations in Dallas. The entire situation was handled peacefully. I was impressed by his ability to “keep the peace”–rather than creating a battle with the organization. The reason I didn’t reach out to a lawyer initially, was because I thought it would mean an immediate end to any hope of a positive relationship with the company. Steve was able to address my concerns, and in the end I was able to continue to work for them."  -KS

  • "Never thought my career would end like it did after 30 years of service. I was part of the first round of the so called reduction of force. I asked myself how can I be part of this with 30 years of seniority. How did they pick these 90 plus employees? Now, the culture of this organization made you question every decision they made. It wasn’t what you knew it’s was a culture of who you know. Nonetheless, I did not accept their severance package. I immediately starting looking for an attorney who would take on my case. After the initial call to Steve I had hope again. He was open and honest about everything and reassured me he would do his best for me, and he did. I had an awesome outcome. Thanks Steve you’re the best."  -S.S.