'Disclosing whistle-blower's ID is like punishing him'

By Indo Asian News Service | Monday, January 07, 2013 | 3:26:04 PM IST (+05:30 GMT) Comment 0 Comment

Washington, Jan 7 (IANS) Researchers say that if the actions of whistle-blowers become public through widely-circulated emails, it leaves them vulnerable to retaliation even if the law protects them from direct reprisals on the job.

Washington, Jan 7 (IANS) Researchers say that if the actions of whistle-blowers become public through widely-circulated emails, it leaves them vulnerable to retaliation even if the law protects them from direct reprisals on the job.

Disclosure of an employee's allegation of sexual harassment may be retaliatory, as well as when the disclosure will directly lead to threats and punitive actions from co-workers or the community, say Indiana University law experts.

The possibility of being publicly identified as a complainant is enough to discourage someone from becoming a whistle-blower, says Jamie Prenkert, associate professor of business law at Indiana's Kelley School of Business Bloomington, who led the study, the journal North Carolina Law Review reports.

"When someone makes a complaint of discrimination that's covered by federal anti-discrimination laws, you're automatically cloaked in protection from retaliatory actions that could come in response," says Prenkert, according to an Indiana statement.

"But what can be retaliatory is a broad-ranging continuum of actions that the courts don't specifically define," adds Prenkert, who co-authored the study with Julie Manning Magid, also from Indiana and Allison Fetter-Harrott, assistant professor of political science at Franklin College.

"There's a lot of research about whistle-blowers -- why people blow the whistle, what influences them -- and anonymity is one reason to decide to blow the whistle," Magid said.

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