More whistleblower retaliation complaints substantiated in 2014

NAVEX Global, a provider of employee hotline and case management systems, reports that 27 percent of employee retaliation complaints were substantiated in 2014, a 125 percent increase over the previous year (PR Newswire, March 10).  While some might find that statistic discouraging, it suggests that employers are less often dismissing retaliation complaints without a fair investigation.  That’s important because retaliation has many negative impacts.

“Retaliation is perhaps the one compliance violation most likely to do irreparable damage to a company’s culture and employee morale,” said Carrie Penman, chief compliance officer and senior vice president, Advisory Services, NAVEX Global. “Retaliation is personal and strikes at the heart of an employee’s well-being: job assignments, pay and their sense of ‘belonging’ in the workplace community. It stifles transparency, erodes trust in leadership, eliminates future reports and, at its worst, it drives the disenfranchised employee outside the organization and into the arms of regulators.”


The 2015 Ethics and Compliance Hotline Benchmark Report is noteworthy because it draws upon data that “encompasses 2.2 million reports over the past five years—representing 32 million employees at more than 4,600 companies—the largest repository of ethics and compliance-related data in the world.”

The company reports that complaints to hotlines have increased 44 percent per 100 employees since 2010. Of those, 38 to 42 percent are substantiated. Possibly that number would be higher if employees making anonymous complaints more often followed up on them.  That happened only one-third of the time, NAVEX found.