What is a whistleblower lawyer

Whistleblower - whistleblowing

Corruption thrives in secret. What makes it special is that there is no classic perpetrator-victim relationship. The focus is on two perpetrators - a giver and a recipient - who work together conspiratorially. Criminologists speak of a "victimless act", but there are still victims. Victims are companies that do not notice their damage or only notice it very late, or the general public is a victim.

Corruption is hardly noticeable from the outside. In order to clear up corruption offenses, it is therefore necessary above all to point out specific information from insiders who have some kind of "close relationship" with one of the perpetrators. That can be B. be close employees, business partners or even companions. These people keep silent about perceptions, often out of a misunderstood loyalty or because they do not want to be a "traitor" or a "polluter". Most of all, however, they are silent because they are afraid of reprisals. Fear of bullying, professional disadvantages up to job loss or coercion and blackmail. Potential whistleblowers - called whistleblowers in America - therefore need confidentiality and protection if they are to be encouraged to give evidence of corruption.

Reports by employees of cases of suspected corruption can conflict with the employment contract confidentiality obligation, which results from the general requirement to take into account the legitimate interests of the other contracting party (Section 241 (2) BGB). If a whistleblower comes out with it, this is usually only lawful if the report does not represent a disproportionate reaction to behavior on the part of the employer or employees of the company. An "escape into the public" will only be permitted if there is an objective and understandable initial suspicion.

Things are easier for a whistleblower if the company offers reporting channels for such cases and names internal contact persons. These can be hotlines, anti-corruption officers, compliance officers or ombudsmen. However, absolute confidentiality can only be guaranteed by an external lawyer (ombudsperson) through his or her legal duty of confidentiality, his right to refuse to testify and the limited possibilities of confiscating documents. As this whistleblower system has proven to be the most successful, companies have increasingly appointed lawyers as ombudsmen.

From the fact that there is no adequate word for "whistleblowing" in the German language, one can see that we do not have a culture of "positive whistling" either. We only know in a negative sense "telling off" and the contemptuous "denouncing". Whistleblowers are not, however, informers if they truthfully draw attention to suspected criminal offenses or serious irregularities. They regularly act on grounds of conscience and bring dishonest machinations to the public in a form of moral courage. At the same time, they act loyally in the interests of the company and its honest employees.

In contrast to Great Britain and America, where whistleblowers are largely protected by law, there is no such protection for whistleblowers in Germany. You may have to reckon with labor law sanctions and claims for damages. They are also threatened with reprisals and even criminal attacks. It is therefore important for a whistleblower to be able to turn to an ombudsperson who, as a lawyer, is subject to confidentiality. It is the task of the ombudsperson to receive such information, to advise the whistleblower and - if the latter agrees - to anonymize the suspicious facts, i. H. without disclosing the name of the whistleblower, forward it to the damaged company. The protection of the whistleblower plays a central role here. A new section 612 a of the German Civil Code intends to improve the legal position of whistleblowers.

See also initial information for whistleblowers.