Following on from our article about The Perils of Whistleblowing last month, we had someone phone in to say ‘thanks for bringing some attention to this subject. We were interested and dismayed to hear that this person had in fact been a ‘whistle blower’ in a certain situation. This person explained that they had been punished more that they person they had ‘whistle blown’ about! This can have the potential to impact upon someone in a profound manner.
We have sought a legal perspective about this in light of continued interest and we’d like to thank Cziana Reuben of the Waitakere Community Law Service for her contribution as follows:
How is the Integrity of a Whistle blower protected? Legal Perspective
While the Protected Disclosures Act 2000 protects whistle blowers from criminal charges, civil proceedings and disciplinary action, those seeking to disclose information must be careful to ensure that the form of their disclosure complies with the Act’s requirements in order to obtain its protection. A disclosure will only be protected where:
- The information relates to serious wrongdoing in an organisation;
- The employee believes on reasonable grounds that the information is true, or likely to be true;
- The employee wishes for the serious wrongdoing to be investigated;
- The employee wishes for the disclosure to be protected;
- The information disclosed is not protected by legal professional privilege;
- The disclosure is made to the correct party; and
- The disclosure is made in good faith.
The Act does not guarantee employees who make such a disclosure from dismissal or other retaliation by their employers. In the event of such action, an employee’s only recourse will be to seek relief through other legislation. An employee subject to retaliation through dismissal or other means may have a personal grievance under the Employment Relations Act 2000. In addition, where the disclosure results in discrimination, a complaint may be made to the Human Rights Commission. In that sense, disclosure carries a risk to the whistle blower that their disclosure may have personal repercussions. Furthermore, although from a legal perspective protection has been put in place, in my opinion it has not gone far enough. And that is another debate!
We welcome any confidential follow on from this and would also like to hear from others who have had experience in this nature.