Enron Changes Climate for Whistle-Blowers

By Gail Russell Chaddock writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, March 1, 2002 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Enron Changes Climate for Whistle-Blowers

Gail Russell Chaddock writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor

Call her the golden girl of whistle-blowers. After months of challenging the veracity or judgment of top managers of her company, Enron Vice President Sherron Watkins hasn't been fired, demoted, or dubbed a crank. No charges have been filed against her, and her professional reputation is intact.

That's not the experience of most employees who raise concerns about their management on issues ranging from nuclear safety to airport security. Some 90 percent of whistle-blowers face reprisals or threats, according to the Government Accountability Project, a watchdog group.

"Ms. Watkins followed the approach we advise all whistle-blowers to adopt - changing the dynamic from finger pointing to constructive problem solving and warning," says Tom Devine, GAP legal director.

Watkins isn't the classic whistle-blower: She went public after being subpoenaed. Nor did her August memo warning that Enron might "implode in a wave of accounting scandals" prevent precisely that outcome.

Still, the Enron affair appears to have encouraged would-be whistle-blowers to step forward in other industries and government agencies. It is also prompting lawmakers to push for new shields against retaliation.

"We've been getting calls from many more people than we can help, especially since Enron," says Stephen Kohn, a Washington-based attorney who works with whistle-blowers.

The National Whistleblower Center in Washington reports that its calls are up tenfold this year. "Since September 11, there has been a tendency toward restricting information and making everything secret. Since Enron, we've seen an opposite effect," says Kris Kolesnik of the center.

Although more than 30 federal laws govern whistle-blowing, recent judicial loopholes mean that most employees have no protection from retaliation.

Congress's renewed focus on bolstering protections fits a familiar pattern. In the past, Congress made such moves in the wake of scandals or disasters, such as the 2000 Alaska Airlines crash that spurred new protections for airline employees.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Enron Changes Climate for Whistle-Blowers


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?