Whistleblowers would be permitted to report wrongdoing to outside authorities before reporting to their company or agency’s internal review program, according to a provisional rule approved this week by the European Commission and member countries.

Virginie Rozière, a French Member of the European Parliament (MEP)
French MEP Virginie Rozière, via press conference video.

Action on the EU whistleblower directive had been stalled over the reporting issue. Several member countries, led by Germany and France, wanted to require employees to report potential crimes and fraud internally before going to regulators and law enforcement. Transparency, anti-corruption groups and their supporters believe that approach would have made it more difficult for individuals to come forward with information about wrongdoing.

“The debate has been quite lively over the course of the last few weeks,” Virginie Rozière, a French Member of the European Parliament (MEP) said in French at a press conference following the decision.

The provisional rule allows for what are called “safe reporting channels.”

From the European Commission release:

Whistleblowers are encouraged to report first internally, if the breach they want to reveal can be effectively addressed within their organisation and where they do not risk retaliation. They may also report directly to the competent authorities as they see fit, in light of the circumstances of the case.

Transparency International called the provisional rule “a pathbreaking piece of legislation,” citing the case of Danske Bank whistleblower Howard Wilkinson.

“Whistleblowers in the EU, like Howard Wilkinson, the Danske Bank whistleblower, have spent far too long facing unjust retaliation for speaking out. It is quite an accomplishment that negotiations between the institutions have come to a positive end,” according to a statement from Nick Aiossa of Transparency International.

Continue Reading After a “lively debate,” EU commission approves provisional whistleblower protection law offering “safe channels” to report wrongdoing

A round-up of recent whistleblower news.

  • The Conversation: #MeToo whistleblowing is upending century-old legal precedent demanding loyalty to the boss

#MeToo was, of course, about sexual harassment and assault. But it was also a form of mass whistleblowing. The movement signaled victims’ willingness – at an unprecedented scale – to defy promises of secrecy to their employers in service of a larger truth by revealing their experiences of workplace harassment.

In the March 5 piece, Elizabeth C. Tippett, an associate professor at the University of Oregon law school, explains what her research into loyalty revealed about whistleblowing.  She said the courts and lawmakers prioritized an employer’s right to loyalty in the past. That is changing.

As legal scholar Richard Moberly documented, the U.S. Supreme Court has been remarkably consistent in recent decades in protecting private-sector whistleblowers. Congress has moved in the same direction, tacking on whistleblower protections in major federal legislation, including the Affordable Care Act and the Dodd-Frank financial reform statute.

Indeed, the righteousness of whistleblowers has become a rare matter of bipartisan consensus. In 2017, every lawmaker in both the House and Senate voted in favor of a law expanding whistleblower protections for federal employees.

Continue Reading Whistleblowers have been making headlines this week. Here are a few.

Whistleblower Protection in EU

The proposed European Parliament directive on whistleblower protection could make it more difficult for individuals to come forward with information about wrongdoing, according to a coalition of transparency and anti-corruption groups.

At issue is a provision that requires employees to report potential crimes and fraud internally before going to regulators and law enforcement.

A letter signed by a range of groups calls on the EU to protect the “free flow of information necessary for responsible exercises of institutional authority.” Disclosures to law enforcement and regulatory agencies provide a “safety net for protecting the public interest and the public’s right to know when organisations are corrupt or fail to take responsibility,” they write.

If this mandatory internal disclosure regime stands, the directive will have abandoned responsible Europeans who raise concerns appropriately to their employers through their supervisors or normal management channels of communication, who disclose information to competent authorities who have the power and mandate to address wrongdoing, or who provide information to the journalists who investigate and report in the public interest. They will suffer. Europe will suffer.

Continue Reading The effort to improve whistleblower protection in Europe will fail unless insiders can seek help from outsiders