Joseph Carson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
01 Jun 96 18:36:48 EDT
I'm a member of ASA and hope this proposed editorial warrants some
discussion here. We can talk to the "cows come home" about Adam and the
Flood. What of it? I think my public stand against whistleblower reprisal
is part of this Christian's answer. I would appreciate your feedback and
prayers. This situation is quite demanding, as you might imagine.
Your coworker in His Creation,
Joseph Carson, P.E.
June 1, 1996
Mr. David Siegel
Here is my cut at a "Viewpoint" guest editorial for the July
issue of "Engineering Times." If you think it more appropriate
to include it as a "Letter to the Editor" instead, that's fine.
It's lengthy, but there's not much "fluff" to it.
10953 Twin Harbour Drive
Knoxville, TN. 37922
THREE DO-ABLE PROPOSALS TO CURTAIL WHISTLEBLOWER REPRISAL IN THE
When we engineers encounter problems, we diagnose them and
determine corrective actions. I have now seen the problem of
whistleblower reprisal in the workplace "up close and personal"
(I've spent over $30,000 and 3000 hours of personal time
confronting the reprisal I've experienced in DOE since my offense
of "committing the truth" in DOE in late 1991.) The June 1996 ET
article described my story and the "counsel of despair" I'd give
a potential whistleblower at this point (look the other way if
you can live with yourself.) Well, fellow engineers, I cannot
live with myself having to give that dismal advice either. I
want to be able to advise a potential engineer whistleblower, "Do
the right thing and, if you suffer reprisal, your profession will
be behind you hoping that you'll end up `laughing on your way to
the bank,' while `rejoicing for righteousness' sake.'"
Whistleblower reprisal is an employer's terror tactic in the
workplace. It thrives in an atmosphere of fear and greed. It
needs to be confronted scrupulously, but remorselessly. How?
Change the rules of the whistleblower reprisal game by our
collective action. These three ideas, within the control of
NSPE, are a good start.
1 Amend the "Code of Ethics of Engineers." I suggest an
addition to the seven existing "Fundamental Canons" to read:
Engineers will advocate adherence to this Code (i.e.
the Code of Ethics of Engineers) within the Engineering
Profession and will oppose discrimination against
Engineers for adhering to this Code.
2 Establish an Engineers' Whistleblower Defense Fund by
requesting a $1.00 voluntary donation to it on the NSPE dues
statement. Encourage other engineering professional
societies to do likewise via the National Institute of
Engineering Ethics (NIEE).
I suggest that the money collected be used to support the
Government Accountability Project (GAP), which was established in
1977 and is a non-profit public interest law firm. GAP
specializes in representing whistleblowers who suffer reprisal
for their protected disclosures about government or corporate
violations of law or regulation that endanger the environment or
the health and safety of the public or workers. They are the
best around and they represent their clients essentially pro bono
(victims of whistleblower reprisal have a difficult time
affording attorneys as the law doesn't allow victims of
whistleblower reprisal to receive significant monetary damages -
so lawyers will not represent whistleblowers on a contingency
GAP also provides realistic advise to would-be whistleblowers and
effectively advocates improvements in whistleblower protection
laws to states and Congress. Open discussion of whistleblower
reprisal in engineering workplaces would go a long way to its
correction. Knowledge that NSPE supports, even indirectly, its
members who suffer unlawful discrimination for putting the "Code
of Ethics of Engineers" above personal considerations should have
a strong deterrent effect on unscrupulous engineer employers.
Knowledge that GAP is defending an engineer's legal attempts to
confront reprisal generally makes most employers "much more
reasonable" about resolving the situation quickly, out of court.
If you are a would-be whistleblower or are suffering reprisal for
your commitment to the Code of Ethics of Engineers, contact GAP
at (202) 408-0034; fax (202) 408-9855; or email
<email@example.com>. Visit GAP's homepage on the web at
<www.halcyon.com/tomcgap> to learn about GAP's determined
advocacy of ethical employees.
3 Allow the establishment of Special Interest Groups (SIGs)
within NSPE based on metaphysical principles.
At this point, NSPE allows, in effect, SIGs based on age, color,
and sex but doesn't allow SIGs based on ideas. I believe that
our Republic was founded to protect the freedom of expression of
ideas, within the law. I believe that engineers who hold similar
metaphysical ideas should be allowed to organize themselves
within their professional societies in order to better integrate,
appropriately, their metaphysical ideas into their worklives.
Anyone who risks his or her career to "blow the whistle" in
America today is either a fool or is following the dictates of
their conscience by integrating their metaphysic into their
PE's, whistleblower reprisal is a problem that requires and
merits our collective action. The engineering job market is
quite competitive, as we all know. That means unscrupulous
employers of engineers know it too - so much the better to carry
out an "ethic cleansing" program, should an engineer in their
employ decide that the "Code of Ethics of Engineers" requires
them to "go in harm's way."
The engineering workplace has changed dramatically in recent
years. The previously understood "lifetime employment agreement"
is largely gone and in its place is the "independent contractor"
mentality. Most engineers will have numerous employers in their
careers. As a result engineers should identify more with our
profession and less with their current employer. NSPE should be
booming in such an environment. The fact it is not, means to me
at least, that it is not doing as good a job as it should in
advancing the interests of it members. Each of us has a strong
vested interest in the active support of our Code of Ethics. The
Code of Ethics is designed to protect ethical engineers as much
as the employers, clients, and public we serve. Collectively, we
need to do a better job at protecting ourselves for adhering to
If you agree with my proposals, don't just sit there. Contact
Arthur Schwartz, General Counsel of NSPE, other officers of NSPE,
and/or officers of your affiliated state or local chapter of NSPE
by mail, fax, mail or phone and tell them you want action, not
just more handwringing. Do it NOW! NSPE will have its semi-
annual meeting in Boston the week of July 15 and I plan to be
there to discuss how NSPE can determine a collective path forward
on this issue.