Learning Objectives:

  • Define the term whistle-blower according to various criteria.
  • Define the significance of whistle-blowing and the act itself according to various conditions.
  • Assess situations where whistle-blowing may or may not be justified, given the duties and obligations of all parties and the potential consequences of the act.
  • Describe the characteristics and importance of laws designed to protect whistle-blowers and key points in the debate over the moral justifications of these laws.
  • The time estimated to complete this module is 30 minutes.
    Maximum Points: 20
    According to the National Whistleblower Center a Whistleblower is:
    One whose loyalty is to the truth. One who exposes government or corporate misconduct, violations of environmental laws, threats to the public safety, or general employment actions that violate the law, risking his/her financial security and professional reputation to stop harmful actions on behalf of the public interest.
    An employee is an agent of an employer.  An agent is a person who is engaged to act in the interests of another person (the principal) and is authorized to act on that persons behalf. An agent has an obligation to work as directed, to protect confidential information, and above all, to be loyal [to the organizations purpose, mission, and values]. Whistleblowing has the potential to do great harm to both individuals and organizations. The main stumbling block is the duty of loyalty.
    Below is the criteria to qualify as a whistleblower:
  • Can only be done by a member of an organization (current or former).
  • There must be information. or evidence of some significant kind of misconduct on the part of the organization or some of its members.
  • Needs to take into account to whom the whistle is blown.
  • Release of information must be done voluntarily, as opposed to being legally required.
  • Must be undertaken as a moral protest, not for revenge or personal advancement.
  • Information must be released outside normal channels of communication.
  • Analyzing the situation.
    Before you blow the whistle, take a moment to analyze the situation. Boatright and Smith highlighted key questions to ask:
    Analyze the situation before blowing the whistle. Consider three key questions.

    At first glance, a whistle-blower is a disloyal agent who backs out of an agreement that is an essential part of the employer-employee relationship. Closer examination reveals that the argument is not as strong as it appears. The law of agency does not impose an absolute obligation on employees to do whatever they are told. Obligations of an agent are confined to the needs of the relationship.
    To be successful in this module, complete the following tasks in order:
    Step 1: Read and Review

  • Read Comer and Vega (Chapter 5)
  • Read Boatright and Smith (Chapter 4)
  • Review entire whistle-blowing learning module (including presentation slides part I and II)
  • Step 2: Watch

    Edward Snowden vs.Chelsea Manning
    Step 3: Answer the following questions.

  1. Using the whistleblower checklist provided, explain if  Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning are whistleblowers (patriots) or traitors. 
  2. What is the difference between Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning?
  3. Do you think that they properly analyzed the situation? Please explain. [Hint: Refer to the Analyzing the Situation Slide on Whistleblowing presentation deck that shows three questions to ask].
  4. Were their [Snowden and Manning] actions justified?
  5. What could they [Snowden and Manning] done differently?
  6. Step 4: Respond to at least one peer. Below are helpful questions you can ask when reviewing and responding to peer(s).
  • Do you agree or disagree with their post? Explain.
  • Is there a perspective or point that you can add to the conversation?