Contrasting consequences: Bringing charges of sexual harassment compared with other cases of whistleblowing [Book Review]

Journal of Business Ethics 9 (2):151 - 158 (1990)
Abstract
The phenomenon of whistleblowing seems puzzling in that whistleblowing presumably brings a wrongful practice to the attention of those with power to correct the situation. In this respect, whistleblowers act to serve the public interest in defeating harmful, illegal and unjust practices. Yet these persons suffer vilification and worse, not only from their fellow employees, but from members of the general public as well. Cases in which members of a discriminated minority report instances of job discrimination, and especially instances of sexual harassment resemble other cases in which an employee reports corporate or bureaucratic misdeeds. In the early 1970s those who brought charges of sexual harassment did suffer character assassination, reprisals and difficulties in finding equivalent employment afterwards. But by the mid-1980s, consequences for those bringing discrimination charges, and especially the charge of sexual harassment have come to differ in several important respects from other cases of whistleblowing. Examining the differences, and what seem to be underlying causes of these differences, provides some insight into the factors that set limits to the practice of whistleblowing in a democratic society.
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