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Protecting whistleblowers in your company

You run an ethical business, and you hope your employees feel respected and appreciated. However, you are experienced enough to know that there is always the chance that someone on your staff will take advantage of his or her situation for personal gain. If that happens, it places your whole company in jeopardy.

Fraud is costly. In fact, many companies accept that they will lose about 5 percent of their profit through fraud. For some businesses, that could add up to millions of dollars. If this kind of illegal activity is taking place in your company, you may want to know right away to avoid the loss and save your firm's reputation. However, any employees who are benefitting from fraudulent practices may not be so eager to be exposed.

When workers take revenge

In many companies, those who blow the whistle on fraud or other misconduct often face harsh consequences from their co-workers and superiors. Some common examples of retaliation against whistleblowers include:

  • Demoting a whistleblower
  • Taking away responsibilities from an employee who reveals fraud
  • Diminishing status or level of respect of an employee
  • Harassing or allowing other employees to harass someone who has reported misconduct
  • Physically attacking, encouraging or tolerating such attacks

While it may seem outrageous to you that someone in your company would physically harm a whistleblower, statistics show that almost one third of whistleblowers reported suffering physical assaults in a single year.

Keeping peace in your company

To avoid creating an atmosphere of retaliation in your company, there are steps you can take. Having your policies for ethical conduct in writing will reduce the opportunities for misunderstanding among your staff. You may also have frequent training sessions so your staff will be at ease with the standards you have set.

Your employees may be more comfortable with a complaint process that allows them to remain anonymous. Studies show that companies detect fraud 50 percent faster when they provide confidential tip lines for employees to report suspected fraud.

Making sure your rights are protected

If you take precautions to provide a work environment free from harassment or discrimination, you may be surprised when an employee accuses you of unfair treatment or retaliation. These allegations are too serious to brush off, and you may find yourself facing costly litigation to defend yourself.

Having a skilled attorney to represent you will ensure that your interests are protected. An experienced lawyer can also assist you with creating policies and handbooks that will establish the ethical environment you want to provide for your employees.

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