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Part 1: Opening a Can of Worms - Investigations, Whistle-Blowing and Retaliation

Retaliation or whistle-blower lawsuits are the hottest thing in employment litigation, and missions should be aware of this. Good policies are important.  Missions should encourage internal reporting of the violation of these policies, and have a well-defined investigation process. Leaders should also know how to avoid issues with retaliation, including how to deal with troublemakers.

whistle-blower policiesHi Theresa. I have a new scenario to think through with you. I hope you can help. Let me put it in a first person fictional case study format:

I am a mission leader who is quite used to dealing with and managing difficult workplace relationships. Over my tenure, I have had numerous people come to me with complaints about their mission work place and team members. Every once in awhile, someone comes to me with a complaint that someone else is doing an illegal or immoral activity. I usually investigate and make a decision. If the complainer doesn’t like my decision, we talk about it. In some cases they have been the ones to move on. Tom and Sally came to me with a complaint about Bill.  (Background: Tom and Sally have had numerous complaints about teammates over the years, and are seen to be very critical and suspicious.  Bill is their leader.) They allege that Bill hasn’t been following the regulations, and there are hints that he may have broken some laws. I investigate it to the best of my ability, and find no substance for Tom and Sally’s allegations. I tell then that, and they accuse me of covering up Bill’s illegal activity. I have had enough, and I ask them to leave our organization. They do, badly, alleging that I am in collusion with Bill. A few weeks later I am surprised to received a complaint from their attorney indicating that I may have violated whistle-blower regulations, and by the way, send him the latest policy and guidelines so he can read what our policies are regarding whistle-blowing…

In this situation, can you help me understand some things? 

  1. At what point does staff conflict and allegations reach the potential for whistle-blowing regulations?
  2. Does a mission have to have them?
  3. What are they, and why are they necessary?
  4. How could the case have avoided the attorney letter? 

Uh, maybe this is kind of a bigger issue than one blog response. Feel free to take as much time and space as you need!

Whistle-blowing 

Disclaimer: not official legal or psychological advice or opinion

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