Whistleblowers: All truth is good, but not all truth is good to say

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Legal Resource Centre of Alberta Ltd. (LRC)
Historically, blowing the whistle about something to others has been risky. Despite the increasing emphasis at work on equality, employee rights, workplace democracy, and quality of life issues, the whistleblower can be seen as disloyal or a snitch. The implied common law duty of the employee of fidelity to the employer can get one fired or cause one to suffer other retaliation for blowing the whistle at work. Unwanted whistleblowing is still likely to be seen today as sanctionable worksite misconduct. It can render one's job less secure or hurts one's chances of promotion. The federal Competition Act has similar provisions: 66.1 (1) Any person who has reasonable grounds to believe that a person has committed or intends to commit an offence under the Act, may notify the Commissioner of the particulars of the matter and may request that his or her identity be kept confidential with respect to the notification. (2) The Commissioner shall keep confidential the identity of a person who has notified the Commissioner 66.2 (1) No employer shall dismiss, suspend, demote, discipline, harass or otherwise disadvantage an employee, or deny an employee a benefit of employment, by reason that (a) the employee, acting in good faith and on the basis of reasonable belief, has disclosed to the Commissioner that the employer or any other person has committed or intends to commit an offence under this Act International treaties also encourage whistleblowing as a method of law enforcement. In the environmental parallel accord to the NAFTA, the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC), the citizen complaint mechanism empowers the public to play a whistleblower role on matters of environmental law enforcement. Under Article 14, members of the public may submit a claim alleging a NAFTA partner has failed to effectively enforce its environmental law. Following a review of the submission, the Commission on Environmental Cooperation may investigate the matter and pursue a factual record of its findings. Section 74 of the Saskatchewan Labour Standards Act states, in part: "No employer shall discharge or threaten to discharge or in any manner discriminate against an employee because the employee (a) has reported or proposed to report to a lawful authority any activity that is or is likely to result in an offence pursuant to an Act." In the recent Merk decision, the employer's dismissal of the whistleblower was upheld. Merk had complained to her employer (a union) that two officers in the union had received unlawful payments. The judge concluded that that there may have been wrongdoing, but the internal investigator, a senior union official, was not a "lawful authority."
Article deposited after permission was granted by the editor of LawNow Magazine, 06/28/2010.
Whistleblowing, Laws and regulations
Bowal, Peter, "Whistleblowers: All truth is good, but not all truth is good ", Law Now, Jun/Jul 2003, Vol. 27, Iss. 6.