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    Whistleblowing – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. Does Judaism agree with whistleblowing?

    A. Whistleblowing is a complex topic. Jewish tradition strongly opposes spreading stories and gossip. However, it is permitted to repeat the truth in order to prevent loss.

    Employees must recognise that their prime responsibility is to their employer, whose interests they must protect. Accordingly it may be difficult to name the employer in the context of any wrongdoing.

    In addition to the responsibility of the employee to an employer, there is a general duty of arevut, the responsibility every Jew should have for another. If a person can prevent a wrongdoing and does not act, he shares in its culpability. This sometimes applies even under secular law in a situation in which there is no explicit duty of disclosure. Under Jewish law a person who knows of an act of wrongdoing and does nothing about it may be regarded as an accessory.

    Five general preconditions govern whistleblowing:
    1. A person may not act precipitously, and must satisfy himself that his information is accurate.
    2. He must report the relevant facts objectively and without exaggeration.
    3. He should be motivated by a desire to prevent loss or damage, not by spite or self-interest.
    4. There must be no other means by which the desired effect can be achieved.
    5. The disclosure should not cause greater harm than is necessary for the achievement of the whistleblower’s objective.

    (From material prepared by the Jewish Association for Business Ethics.)

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