Business Ethics - Whistleblowing and Employee Loyalty
Whistleblowing and Employee Loyalty
An employee, former employee, or member of an organization, especially a business or government agency, who reports misconduct to people or entities that have the power and presumed willingness to take corrective action.
The misconduct may be a violation of a law, rule, regulation and/or a direct threat to public interest, such as fraud, health/safety violations, and corruption.
“ Whistleblowing… violate(s) a prima facie duty of loyalty to one’s employer.” Norman Bowie – Business Ethics
One does not have an obligation of loyalty to a company, even a prima facie one, because companies are not the kind of things that are properly objects of loyalty
To make them [companies] objects of loyalty gives them a moral status they do not deserve and in raising their status, one lowers the status of the individuals who work for the companies
Idealists - Loyalty is devotion to something more than persons, to some cause or abstract entity
“ Social atomists” – At most one can only be loyal to individuals and that loyalty can ultimately be explained away as some other obligation that holds between two people
Moderate position – Although loyalty for super-personal entity is crucial, loyalty is still an important and real relation that holds between people, one that cannot be dismissed by reducing it to some other relation
In being loyal to the group, am I being loyal to the whole group or to its members ?
A group is nothing more that the individuals who comprise it, nothing other than a mental fiction by which we refer to a group of individuals
No loyalty would be owed to a company because a company is a mere mental fiction One would have obligations to the individual members but not “for the sake of the group” A company has no moral status except in terms of the individual members who comprise it
A business does two things It produces a good or service It makes a profit
If a worker does not produce in a company or if cheaper laborers are available, the company – in order to fulfill its purpose – should get rid of the worker
Alexander Litvinenko (1962 – 2006) Former staff of KGB In November 1998, Litvinenko publicly accused his superiors of ordering the assassination of Russian tycoon and oligarch, Boris Berezovsky. Polonium-210
“ You may succeed in silencing one man but the howl of protest from around the world will reverberate, Mr. Putin, in your ears for the rest of your life. May God forgive you for what you have done, not only to me but to beloved Russia and its people.” Alexander Litvinenko