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US Lags in Protection for All, Not Only Whistleblowers

© Flickr / Kate Ter HaarWhistle
Whistle - Sputnik International
The United States is lagging in employment protection for all, not just whistleblowers who expose wrongdoing, according to David Lewis, professor of employment law and head of a whistleblowing research unit at Middlesex University.

Former National Security Agency contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden has claimed that the US needs re-examine its national system of protections for those who expose wrongdoing. Lewis recently joined Radio Sputnik to discuss the issue.

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In the interview, Lewis explained that the uniquely-US system doesn’t protect whistleblowers, as it uses a mechanism offering financial reward in exchange for whistleblowing (taking it as a fait accompli that whistleblowers will lose current and future employment opportunities) instead of offering legislated employment protection.

“The mechanism used by the US is to offer financial rewards in recognition of the fact that whistleblowers may suffer retaliation, they may lose their jobs and may have to receive compensation for the rest of their working lives,” Lewis stated. “This isn’t a system that is popular in the rest of the world.”

Snowden’s recent statements are in response to an interview given by former senior Pentagon investigator John Crane to the Guardian on Sunday. Crane stated that reporting about corruption and wrongdoing to authorities could become a "trap" for whistleblowers.

Lewis explained that the US lacks laws to protect confidentiality and procedures that are endemic to a more egalitarian and open culture.

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“There should be laws in the US that cover the private and the public sector, there should be special provisions for national security — not just exempting them,” Lewis explained.  “Employers should be required to have procedures, they should be required to have a whistleblowing policy that encourages reporting of wrongdoing, and they should publicize successful cases of whistleblowing.”

Lewis explained that by having these procedures in place, everyone would benefit. Employers would stop wrongdoing, a whistleblower could air the problem, and the public interest would be protected from wrongdoing by the organization.

“It’s not rocket science, and it’s something that is recognized in many many countries throughout the world — that having a whistleblowing procedure is good for everybody,” Lewis stated. “There’s no downside to having a whistleblowing procedure unless you are a corrupt organization and you rely on that corruption to maintain business.”

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