Many Americans aware of workplace misconduct: Survey

Anti-retaliation protection, financial awards encourage whistleblowing

With significant financial rewards and strengthened anti-retaliation and anonymity protections, 78 per cent of respondents to a survey in the United States indicated they would report wrongdoing in the workplace if it could be done anonymously, without retaliation and result in a monetary award.

And more than one-third (34) of respondents know about wrongdoing in the workplace, found the survey of 1,000 Americans released by law firm Labaton Sucharow.

However, 68 per cent were unaware the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has a new Whistleblower Program designed to protect and reward individuals who report violations of the federal securities laws.

"It is disheartening to see that wrongdoing in the workplace continues to be so widespread. However, the findings affirm the need for, and value of, the SEC's Whistleblower Program. This program, in concert with other regulatory reforms, has the potential to dramatically enhance investor protection and restore public faith in the markets,” said Jordan Thomas, partner and head of the whistleblower representation practice at Labaton Sucharow.

The program offers strong anti-retaliation protections and financial awards of 10 per cent to 30 per cent of monetary sanctions collected at the conclusion of a successful enforcement action.

"In strengthening protections and incentives for whistleblowers, the federal government recognized that law enforcement authorities cannot effectively and efficiently police the marketplace without the assistance of private individuals and entities," said Thomas. "Accordingly, now, more corporations will establish a culture of integrity in their organizations and individuals will courageously report wrongdoing wherever they find it."

Labaton's Ethics & Actions Survey also found 49 per cent of respondents with annual household income between US$75,000 and US$100,000 reported they had observed or had knowledge of misconduct at work. This percentage dropped to 29 per cent for respondents with a household income above $100,000.

And 83 per cent of those surveyed between the ages of 45 and 54 would report misconduct if done anonymously, protected from retaliation and with monetary award. That number dropped to 74 per cent for respondents aged 18 to 34.

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