Whistleblowers expose frauds and scandals, and have the power to upend a company’s bottom line. You don’t have to look any further than the recent headlines around Theranos — which was exposed by a whistleblower for defrauding investors, leading the company’s value to plummet from billions to zero — to know that reporting misconduct does make a difference.
But what really is the act of whistleblowing? What are the benefits? The risks? And, if you decide to become a whistleblower, will you be protected?
To put it simply, whistleblowing means to report misconduct or illegal activities of a fellow employee, a higher up or an entire company or government agency. A whistleblower is someone who speaks up when he or she sees something that is ethically or legally wrong happening at their workplace.
Whistleblowing goes back in history as far as medieval England, around the seventh century, according to Whistleblowers International. Medieval England is where the phrase “qui tam” originates, which today refers to a whistleblower lawsuit. Qui tam is short for the Latin phrase “qui tam pro domino rege quam pro se ipso in hac parte sequitur,” which translates to “he who prosecutes for himself as well as for the king.”Read more here.