Smart Talk

Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

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Host: Scott LaMar

Smart Talk: Whistleblowers protected in PA?

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Mar 17, 2014 3:00 PM

What to look for on Smart Talk Tuesday, March 18, 2014:

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It's common knowledge that it is illegal for an employer in Pennsylvania to fire or discriminate against an employee on the basis of race, religion, national origin, gender, or age.  However, many don't realize that it also is unlawful for an employer to terminate or retaliate against a whistleblower.

A whistleblower is an employee who reports fraud, waste, or wrongdoing witnessed in the workplace.

There have been dozens of highly publicized cases of whistleblowers exposing something they feel is wrong or illegal.

They include Edward Snowden, the former National Security Administration computer contractor who exposed widespread surveillance by the U.S. and British governments, although some believe Snowden is a traitor that jeopardized American lives rather than exposing wrongdoing. 

Another in the news is former Penn State assistant football coach Mike McQueary who has filed a $4 million whistleblower suit against the university saying he can't get a job after he was dismissed for testifying in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case.

On Tuesday's Smart Talk, we dig deeper into Pennsylvania's whistleblowing laws.

Appearing on the program is Katherine Pearson, Professor of Law at Penn State's Dickinson School of Law and Jeb White, an expert on whistleblower cases, who is an attorney with a Philadelphia law firm.

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Jeb White and Katherine Pearson

Listen to the program:

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  • TrinaB img 2014-03-18 08:09

    Snowden is a criminal and he knows it. If he wanted to expose the massive data collections by the NSA, which anyone who listens to news should have known was happening, he would have done it without fleeing the country. I recall hearing reports three to five years ago on the subject of data collection and reports from workers of extra server and switch closets being built so NSA and others could have access to phone and data exchanges.

  • Lisa img 2014-03-18 08:29

    Beware of "in-house" corporate whistle-blower programs! I worked for a Fortune500 company in a federally regulated environment. The company rolled out a whistle-blower program where they wanted employees to inform upper management of problems or potential problems that weren't being adequately addressed by middle management and that could lead to compliance issues. A co-worker reported an issue and was "laid-off" 2 days later. Needless to say that no one reported anything after that. There is no protection in PA for whistle-blowers.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-03-18 08:41

    Steve emails:

    In brief:
    I worked for a large public venue, nepotism was rampant in the hiring process.
    Cheif of security was hired with absolutely no security experience of relevant background. Senior security officers had their schedules chenged and cut, new hires were friends and relatives. Morale plummetted.
    Oversight and leadership was non-existent.
    A shooting happened at the facility, staff was completely unprepared forcsuch am event. There was never any follow up or review or training for employees.
    Traffic and pedestrian issues have been a known problem. Staffing to key locations was cut as budget saving measure. Securoty cheif recieved a bonus for cost cutting. Pedestrian area where there guards used to work now had one guard. A man was run over and killed last year. The previous day the pedestrian issue was well known and brought to management attention with no result.
    Crowding and potential for stampede has long existed with no critical evaluation. Thankfully no callamity has occured.
    The boots on the ground are the faces who get blamed for these issues while management is unresponsive or retalitory toward suggestions. The squeeky wheel gets their hours cut.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-03-18 08:44

    okgodana emails:

    Okgodana emails:

    Let's face it PA is old money and powerful GOVERMENT control.
    With the "at will employment" no one stands a chance.
    And there's business and politicians that want to weaken the "at will employment".
    And once your out ,it's a cold world,and if you only started a few complaints and got fired.
    The complaint system won't help you.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-03-18 08:47

    David emails:

    David emails:

    I worked for a small business and witnessed.
    What I believe were illegal criminal activities.
    Maybe they received a govt loan,recieved tax breaks.
    They had immigrant relatives working there also(maybe some govt subsidies).
    I didn't know who to call.
    Just to inquire,but I didn't.