January 30, 2023
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|Here is a truism you can take to the bank:
Whistleblowers, subordinates reporting misdeeds
to management, never win the war. At best,
they only win a battle or two.
Nearly ten years ago, Major James Weirick, USMC, found himself in that unenviable position:
The Marine Corps officer who filed a complaint against the commandant for intervening in the Taliban urination cases against eight Marines is now the target of reprisals from superiors, his attorney says.
Retired Marine Col. Jane Siegel, who is representing Maj. James Weirick, said superiors have subjected the major to retaliations since it became known that he filed a whistleblower complaint against Gen. James Amos, the commandant and Joint Chiefs of Staff member.
The Washington Times Rowan Scarborough September 29, 2013
And there is more according to the same article:
“Headquarters Marine Corps is undercutting a hero,” Col. Siegel said. “He did the right thing, and they are trying to bury it and him.”
Maj. Weirick, a staff judge advocate at the Combat Development Command at Quantico, Va., accuses Gen. Amos of violating the military edict against unlawful command influence by urging guilty verdicts to the general overseeing the cases.
The major also told the Pentagon’s inspector general that Gen. Amos’ legal advisers unlawfully classified most of the evidence, including potentially embarrassing emails at headquarters, to keep the material away from defense attorneys.
This seemingly childish get-even attack also is business as usual in the civilian world.
[Understand that I don’t know what went on behind the scenes with Major Weirick and, therefore, do not imply the charge is or is not just.]
I learned during my employment as an internal auditor that management often views whistleblowers who are really good and honorable employees as troublemakers. The employee often learns their good-faith efforts bring unwanted consequences such as:
- The boss thanks the whistleblower but nothing positive happens.
- Management ostracizes the whistleblower.
whistleblower leaves the company.
Bosses want to keep their mismanagement issues from their superiors. Too many times life is never the same for the whistleblower or the turf-protecting boss. Each will develop a lasting distrust for the other. People have long memories when crossed.
Even when whistleblowers go to the top - the chief executive officer or owner – it is pretty much over for the whistleblower for either or both of two reasons:
- Bosses are quick to guess the whistleblower’s identity by the nature of the complaint.
top person discusses the issue with a management member to initiate an
investigation. The issue then cascades down the management hierarchy to
Too often the whistleblower leaves the company or management relegates the whistleblower to an out-of-the-way job and the whistleblower becomes a persona non grata.
The failure of management and “regular people” to work in harmony gives rise to inefficiencies and turnover. Trust and openness at all levels within any work environment is the solution to smooth running of organizations. However, work relationships are often not as they should be. Some are contentious with destructive “us” and “them” camps whether blatant or under the surface.
After witnessing what happens to "open" whistleblowers, others learn to keep quiet and roll with the flow. Consequently, inefficiencies and conflict continue.
Advice to Whistleblowers
Most whistleblowers bring issues to management for reasons only they know. Their motivation is usually a good-faith effort to alert management of wrongdoing. However, sometimes the motivation is an act of mean-spirited revenge. Whatever, the best advice is for whistleblowers to keep quiet, especially about minor issues, unless they know beyond all doubt they are in good standing with management.
Otherwise, if the whistleblower feels compelled to proceed, he or she could consider hiring an attorney for guidance whether the misdeed is illegal or a violation of company rules.
Whistleblowers are incorrect when believing management will appreciate their efforts and will offer support. Further, whistleblowers are wise to select an outside counsel with absolutely no connection to management.
No superior likes a snitch.
Interesting readings: Wikepedia's List of whistleblowers