Some “whistleblowers” are just employees fired for cause who make up things, but make charges the media amplifies. (Commentary)
By John Tamny
At the same time it’s no reach to suggest that much worse than job loss is not working at all. This is something to keep in mind with allegedly noble “whistleblowers” top of mind.
Take Adam Levine, an individual formerly employed by The Change Company. While in its employ, Levine was much more than a problem. According to sworn testimony from at least six former colleagues, Levine threatened them to the point that they individually felt unsafe on the job. For that alone, Levine was most certainly a challenge that had to be dealt with. Don’t worry, it gets worse.
It does because as Levine’s behavior grew worse, some inside the Change Company sought workplace violence restraining orders against Levine. Despite this, despite the prominent writing on the wall that called for Levine to shape up, his behavior that necessitated the restraining orders continued. Levine was subsequently terminated.
That Levine was let go reads as a statement of the obvious for reasons well beyond his charitably unruly behavior. In particular, a failure by the Change Company to protect its threatened employees would have exposed the financial services company to sizable liabilities care of staffers not named Adam Levine. Imagine a business keeping in its employ an individual who routinely threatened others. It’s a reminder that Levine’s ongoing employment was a problem for Change Company well beyond his impact on employee performance. Readers surely know why.
Still, as previously mentioned Levine was fired. Obviously with good cause. Only for Levine to protest his termination in a rather underhanded way. Sadly, media members have aided his protest. “Whistleblower” allegations apparently sell newspapers in this day and age, or more realistically they’re clickbait.
In Levine’s case, he found friendly media sources willing to go to print as it were with allegations about Change Company that could have negative implications for its brand and its ability to conduct business. Notable about these unfounded allegations is that Levine hadn’t previously brought them up. They only became a thing once his termination took on imminent qualities.
Despite this, major media including Barron’s, Bloomberg, and The American Banker covered Levine’s complaints as though the previously unmentioned allegations were real. On its own the latter is surprising, only for a disturbing story to actually get worse. Indeed, Change wasn’t the first company that Levine had attempted to hold hostage.
It turns out Levine had threatened private equity giant Texas Pacific Group (TPG), one of his past employers, in similarly extortionate ways. He indicated to TPG that he was “a weapon of mass destruction” who could “bring TPG down in ten days” with information he claimed to possess. With TPG as with Change, Levine’s demand in return for silence was payouts of the multi-million dollar kind.
Where to go with stories like this? Brands are hard won, particularly in the financial services and investment space. At the same time, loss of reputation can happen much more quickly and cheaply given the potential for a story to take on “viral” qualities in an instant. In which case these threats must be taken seriously, and that’s true even if there’s no there to the underlying story.
It all calls for members of the media to do a more thorough job of reporting on those blowing the proverbial whistle. They can be wrong, untruthful, or both. If not, as in if whistleblowers are always right, then the logical result will be a much more difficult job market for those who simply want to work.
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