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Survey: Many People Know About Workplace Misconduct and are Willing to Report it -- for Money

Most employees would report wrongdoing in the workplace if they could be protected from retaliation and claim a monetary reward, according to a recent poll.

Labaton Sucharow LLP, the law firm that created the nation’s first whistleblower practice this summer, and ORC International conducted a survey in November that asked 1,000 Americans of theirknowledge of wrongdoing in the workplace and their willingness to report it. More than one third (34 percent) of respondents said they knew of wrongdoing in the workplace.

Seventy-eight percent of respondents to Labaton Sucharow's Ethics and Action survey said they would report wrongdoing if they could do it anonymously without the threat of retaliation and it would result in a monetary reward.

"It is disheartening to see that wrongdoing in the workplace continues to be so widespread. However, the findings affirm the need for, and value of, the SEC's whistleblower program,” said Jordan Thomas, partner and head of the whistleblower representation practice at Labaton Sucharow, referring to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act,which includes a whistleblower bounty program.

“This program, in concert with other regulatory reforms, has the potential to dramatically enhance investor protection and restore public faith in the markets," he said.

The SEC’sannual report for the whistleblower program revealed that it had received “numerous high-quality whistleblower submissions, originating from virtually every state in the union and numerous countries around the world.” In the first seven weeks of the program the SEC received more than 330 tips -- an average of seven tips per day.

Other findings from the survey:79 percent of respondents would encourage a loved one to report wrongdoing if they could do so anonymously, be protected from retaliation, and receive a monetary award.

 49 percent of respondents with annual household income between $75,000-$100,000 reported that they had observed, or had knowledge of, misconduct at work. This percentage dropped to 29 percent for those respondents with a household income above $100,000.

 37 percent of white respondents said they have observed or had knowledge of wrongdoing in the workplace. That figure dropped to 33 percent for black respondents and 22 percent of Hispanic respondents.

 83 percent of those surveyed between the ages of 45-54 would report misconduct if done anonymously, protected from retaliation and with monetary award. However, only 74 percent of respondents at an earlier age in their career, aged 18-34, would report.

 68 percent of respondents are unaware of the newSEC whistleblower program.

 67 percent of metropolitan residents compared to 72 percent of non-metropolitan residents are unfamiliar with the program.

Read "Who’s Really Stealing Company Assets?" from the August 2011 issue of Security Management for more on whistleblower protection.Ethics-and-Action-Survey.pdf