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Advocacy and Letters -
Advocacy and Comment Letters
Written by Coalition
Monday, 21 July 2014
July 21, 2014
The Honorable Mary Jo White
US Securities and Exchange Commission
100 F Street, NE
Washington DC 20549
Dear Ms. White:
We, the undersigned organizations, write to express our concern for the widespread and growing problem of retaliatory conduct against corporate whistleblowers. Not merely a threat to public policy, retaliation of this nature has a deleterious effect on corporate culture and growth. And, ultimately, such conduct undermines the force and efficacy of the SEC Whistleblower Program.
Retaliation against whistleblowers is a quiet and growing epidemic. In a 2012 supplement to its National Business Ethics Survey, the Ethics Resource Center (ERC) found that a near recordsetting 22% of employees who reported misconduct faced retaliation, up from 12% in 2007.1 More than a third of those who declined to report misconduct pointed to fear of retaliation as the reason for their silence. A culture in which employees are retaliated against or fear to speak up is a cancer that slowly grows but consistently kills and has been responsible for countless highprofile corporate scandals. Most alarming, increases in the incidence of retaliation are outpacing the overall rate of increases in Whistleblowing disclosures. Various other studies confirm the prevalence of retaliation and fear of retaliation in the corporate workplace.2
The commercial marketplace wants and needs guidance. We believe the majority of corporations want to do the right thing and many invest in robust ethics and compliance programs to do so. Unfortunately, corporate compliance is not a panacea. While there is a low incidence of whistleblower retaliation in companies with strong ethical program, the ERC survey found that these organizations also represent the greatest uptick in reports of retaliation. In other words, even strong ethics programs alone are an inadequate deterrent. The proposed guidance would benefit employers and whistleblowers alike by reducing the litigation expenses associated with legal uncertainties, helping companies more effectively reduce their risk of retaliationrelated liability, and ensuring that individuals who report possible misconduct, both internally and to the Commission, do so with a full understanding of their reporting options and the applicable risks and rewards. It also would benefit corporations, because most whistleblowers disclose fraud against their employer, and every study has shown that in this role they are more effective than audits, compliance programs and law enforcement combined.3
The success of the SEC Whistleblower Program, the health of our markets and the broader public interest are protected and served when employees can safely report wrongdoing. Indeed, an open and transparent workplace is a key barometer of a working democracy. For these reasons, we urge the SEC to take the following actions:
(1) Engage in appropriate rule-making to clarify and strengthen protections available to those who report misconduct internally or externally. Specifically, clarify that whistleblowers are in fact eligible for protection when they make disclosures within their respective corporations. Further, clarify that any actions made by the wrongdoer in effort to block the flow of whistleblowing evidence are illegal. Finally, clarify that it is legally protected to disclose evidence of crime or other violations of SEC rules, despite any assertions by wrongdoers that employees have stolen their “property.” These suggested solutions warrant a public hearing and careful consideration by the Commission.
(2) Launch a series of field hearings around the country to discuss the problem of workplace retaliation and explore new ways to increase reporting—both internally and externally; and
(3) Create an Advisory Committee on Whistleblower Reporting and Protection. Leveraging the staff reports from the field hearings described above and the expertise of a diverse group of participants that meet regularly, this committee will serve as a vehicle for the Commission to collate advice, best practices and recommendations related to whistleblower reporting and protection.
We thank you for the opportunity to comment on this important investor protection problem. As the SEC places more emphasis on the role of whistleblowers in the national enforcement program, it must also use its authority to mandate integrity, transparency and accountability in the marketplace. This is good for whistleblowers, good for business and good for our country.
American Association of Small Property Owners
Americans for Financial Reform (coalition of 200+ organizations)
Atlantic States Legal Foundation
Bernabei & Wachtel, PLLC
Circumpolar Conservation Union
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington
Corporate Action Network
Defending Dissent Foundation
Employment Justice Center
Evangelicals for Social Action
Evans Law Firm, Inc.
Faculty Against Rape
Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics
Government Accountability Project
Heart of America Northwest
Implode-Explode Heavy Industries, Inc.
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
International Association of Whistleblowers
International Brotherhood of Teamsters
Investor Environmental Health Network
Kentucky Resources Council, Inc.
Labaton Sucharow LLP
Lower Ninth Ward Living Museum
Minnesota Coalition On Government Information
National Coalition of Organized Women
National Consumers League
National Employment Lawyers Association
National Organization for Women
National Whistleblower Center
New Jersey Citizen Action
New Jersey Work Environment Council
New Orleans Women's Shelter
Peace Fund and Peace Action Education Fund
Pentecostals and Charismatics for Peace and Justice
Project On Government Oversight
Public Concern at Work
Sustainable Energy and Economy Network
Taxpayers Protection Alliance
The Coalition For Change, Inc.
The Multiracial Activist
West Virginia Citizen Action Group
Wild Earth Guardians
1 Ethics Research Center, Retaliation: When Whistleblowers Become Victims (2012),
2 See 2012 Corporate Governance and Compliance Hotline Benchmarking Report commissioned by The Network; Wall Street in Crisis: Labaton Sucharow Survey of Financial Services Industry 2013.
3 PricewaterhouseCoopers and Martin Luther University Economy and Crime Research Center, Economic Crime, People,
Culture and Controls: The 4th Biennial Global Economic Crime Survey (2007), http://www.pwc.com/gx/en/economic-crimesurvey/pdf/pwc_2007gecs.pdf.; Society of Certified Fraud Examiners, 2008 Report to the Nation on Occupational Fraud and Abuse (2008), at 4. 30.
Last Updated ( Thursday, 31 July 2014 )
Blog, Commentary and Articles -
Science and Technology
Written by James Landrith
Sunday, 22 June 2014
I've written before about organization and data storage with regard to my use of PIMs, PDAs and smartphones (here, here and here). This will be a bird's eye view of my current process. I will write a more in-depth piece later for those looking to get better organized and gain more control of their piles and processes.
I'm feeling a lot better about my digital record-keeping. I've been using PDAs and then smartphones starting in 1995 with an awesome (then) Radio Shack PDA, moving to Palm devices and then finally onto iPhones.
My calendar, contacts, tasks and memos have been digital since the days of LotusNotes in 1992ish and then onto Outlook, always exporting and importing the data to whatever software package fit my needs at the time. I've been using Outlook at home for several years as most of my employers were on that platform so it made life simpler in that respective. I had long since outgrown it and tired of data files closing improperly and often losing the ability to send from the desktop, etc.
I went as paperless as possible starting in 2005 and scanned in paper records dating back to the 1970s and shredding huge piles of dead trees. The hard part of scanning and filing was done, but it took a while for the software and service providers to catch up. I wanted to be able to access my data online anywhere, have a locally hosted copy and the ability to access, edit and sync between devices and locations. A lot of interesting packages came and went that could do SOME, but not all. Either it had a great desktop solution, but no online access, or it was device hosted only and not able to be edited on the desktop or backed up in a format that could be edited. Or, it existed online only and I had no way to ensure a local backup. Rather than invest time and effort in a fly by night solution that would be bankrupt or unsupported in six months, I decided to bide my time and continue to add to my digital stockpiles. I refused to trust my data to a platform I could not manipulate or backup locally.
Recently, I made some decisions on which services to use going forward. Over the last month, I was able to get all of my cloud synced services on track for key data points. No more isolated data islands or patchwork third pary applications that kinda, sorta, sometimes worked right.
I started using Evernote obsessively and was able to back up decades worth of already archived digital records in the cloud, portable devices and locally on my laptop. I imported all of my notes and memos from iCloud (backed up in Outlook) and my archives from Toodledo as well.
Through iCloud, all emails are now forwarded to one box with a unified archive of 20 years of emails from all accounts in one place, accessible from the cloud and backed up locally in Outlook. I was already on that platform for my calendar, contacts, memos, tasks and schedules (before moving memos and tasks to Evernote).
I was previously using Gmail to collect and forward my old hotmail, yahoo and aol accounts to my james AT jameslandrith DOT com account. Over time though, Gmail lost my enthusiam due to frequent forwarding problems, duplications and inability to create folders, not to mention privacy concerns. Sorry, but tagging alone doesn't work for me. I need the ability to separate into folders as well. Outlook.com (a massive improvement to Windows Live and HotMail) has really improved its service and if I had not already been on the iCloud platform, I may have gone that way. I still have a HotMail account and have kept up with it since signing up in 1995 or 1996 (before Microsoft acquired it), so converting to Outlook.com would have been simple. It is still an option if I decide that I don't like the iCloud interface for email. I'm just happy that my archive and new mail can all be accessed so easily now.
My domain name email address is still active, but now forwarding to my iCloud email address. No one needs to update my contact information. All of my old email addresses still reach me at the same inbox. I no longer maintain a separate email box for the website. It was never a necessity and turned out in the long-term to be a battery vampire on my devices. All of that email is now in the merged iCloud database anyway.
All of my e-books are organized with Calibre (portable edition) and my music is all backed up with iTunes via the iCloud. I use a Nook to read eBooks as well, but keep all of my books, regardless of format housed in a Calibre library. The majority of my magazine subscriptions (mostly professional) are in electronic format as well. Old paper copies of newsletters and booklets were scanned and recycled long ago.
I can now get to what I want when I want and do not fear data losses either at the provider level or on my own devices anymore. It has taken a lot of work to get this far, but maintenance is a habit now, not a chore or a task.
Last Updated ( Sunday, 22 June 2014 )
Poetry written in the 21st Century
Written by James Landrith
Tuesday, 13 May 2014
I think I'll call this one "sometimes."
Sometimes, you need to pick up your oldest son from the Metro at 9:30 pm.
Sometimes, you think you feel something crawling up your leg in the dark as you drive up the road.
Sometimes, you ignore it and think it is probably just the air conditioning tickling your leg.
Sometimes, you stop at a red light and decide to change the station because that song you didn't like in the 1980s isn't any better in 2014.
Sometimes, there is an OMG BIG FUCKING SPIDER looking back at you from the channel display as if it owns the place.
Sometimes, you wage a small war in your own car.
Sometimes, you win.
Blog, Commentary and Articles -
Rape, Sexual Assault and Abuse
Written by James Landrith
Thursday, 01 May 2014
As a vocal and public male survivor, I've taken on a lot of abuse, harassment and hate from those who don't want to hear our voices. I get it. Rape is an "icky" topic. Men are supposed to be strong and women couldn't possibly commit sexual violence. They will quote legal definitions, espouse childish mythology and communicate taunts in an attempt to shame and silence. There are any number of "reasons" why we are silenced, minimized, trivialized and outright mocked by the general public and often by sexual violence activists and advocates. Further, if the general public acknowledges male survivors, then it will also have to consider the possibility of female rapists beyond the "wink-wink" emotionally stunted ideology ascribed to at present.
Get over it. We exist.
I've been speaking on a very public stage since finally finding my voice in 2008. That was nearly two decades after I had been drugged, raped and blackmailed into silence. Since then, I've been called every name I can imagine, been publicly shamed in print, told that I "better not reveal the name" of my rapist and been subjected to a ton of other forms of intimidation and silencing attempts. I keep hearing how male survivors don't experience such shaming tactics, yet I keep experiencing such firsthand. I wonder why the need to deny it happens?
As a male who does not identify as "ally" or "bystander" first, but as a survivor and actual stakeholder in sexual violence issues in my own right, I am saddened at how often we are used as cannon fodder by both men and women in battles over who has it worse.
That is yet another iteration of the Oppression Olympics. That is creating a hierarchy of suffering. That is NOT anything approaching actual advocacy work.
If you don't care about our issues, that is fine. However, please stop co-opting our traumas to make the case that "X doesn't care about you and only brings you up to silence Y." Guess what, the advocates for "Y" are doing the same thing with regard to male survivors and our issues by using us as talking points and a "gotcha" in their never-ending gender wars. Such ideological battles are more akin to a turf war or gang fight than anything even slightly resembling mature and reasoned advocacy.
Please. We are actual human beings. We exist. Our issues may not matter to some, but we deserve to be treated with a little dignity and a lot less shallow condescension from people who are only using us to score points in ideological arguments.
Our concerns, our struggles and our lives matter far more than your selfish need to score a quick point at our expense. Is that too much to ask?
Don't bother answering. I'm not asking. You don't actually care anyway. Anyone engaging in such practices lacks the emotional maturity to comprehend why such behavior is abhorrent in the first place.
Advocacy that is not based in compassion and focused on the lives of the human beings affected will eventually fail - and spectacularly. Believe it.
About James A. Landrith
James Landrith is a healing rape survivor, public speaker, Vice President of Men Recovering from Military Sexual Trauma (MR. MST), internationally syndicated blogger, civil liberties activist and the notorious editor and publisher of The Multiracial Activist (ISSN: 1552-3446) and The Abolitionist Examiner (ISSN: 1552-2881). Landrith can be reached by email at:
or at his personal website/blog.
Last Updated ( Thursday, 01 May 2014 )
Advocacy and Letters -
Written by DC Justice for Survivors Campaign
Tuesday, 08 April 2014
April 8, 2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Renee Davidson
DC Justice for Survivors Campaign (DC JSC)
DC Council Passes Landmark Sexual Assault Reforms
Grassroots Survivors’ Group Celebrates Success After Year of Mobilizing
Washington, D.C. — The DC Justice for Survivors Campaign (DC JSC) is elated that today DC Council took the first of two votes to pass the Sexual Assault Victims’ Rights Amendment Act of 2013 (SAVRAA), landmark legislation to improve how the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) handles sexual assault cases and treat survivors of sexual assault.
“This is a monumental step in both supporting survivors of sexual assault and improving DC’s sexual assault response system,” said Julia Strange, DC JSC organizer and Director of Programs and Policy for Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS). “This legislation means that those who report sexual assault in the District can expect that their cases will be followed through as efficiently as possible, and that they will be treated with fairness and respect,” added Sherelle Hessell-Gordon, DC JSC organizer and Executive Director of theDC Rape Crisis Center.
The final version of the bill passed by DC Council includes all criteria for which the DC JSC mobilized support. In full, the legislation: 1) Grants sexual assault survivors the right to have a sexual assault victim advocate present during hospital forensic exams and in subsequent in-person police interviews; 2) Mandates the prompt processing of rape kits; 3) Provides sexual assault survivors the right to the results of their rape kits and toxicology tests; 4) Mandates that an independent consultant make semi-annual public reports on progress that MPD makes in implementing reforms; 5) Codifies DC’s Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) and requires it to conduct case review; 6) Requires an annual report on sexual assault from agencies that handle cases and evidence; 7) Establishes a task force to recommend further reform to the system, including additional roles for advocates, an effective system for complaints and juvenile sexual assault system reforms.
The DC JSC, a survivor-led grassroots coalition, has been working for over a year not to only to pass, but also to strengthen SAVRAA.The coalition, formed by Collective Action for Safe Spaces, (CASS), the DC Rape Crisis Centerand DC NOW, was established in response to evidence of police mismanagement of sexual assault cases in the District. The DC JSC is comprised of 23 organizations and over 400 individual community members. Over the past months, DC JSC members consulted with policy experts, collected hundreds of signatures in support of SAVRRA’s urgently-needed reforms, met with DC Councilmembers and testified at the December 2013 DC Council Hearing on the legislation, including sharing heart wrenching stories of their experiences of reporting sexual assault to MPD.
“Passing legislation that codifies the rights of survivors of sexual assault sends a powerful message to survivors that our community leaders care about their rights and are working to protect them,” said Susan Mottet, DC JSC organizer and President of the National Organization for Women, DC Chapter
(DC NOW). “This bill was a survivor-driven advocacy effort, and we thank the brave men and women who testified and shared their stories,” said DC JSC organizer Marisa Ferri. “We’re encouraged that the passage of SAVRAA, especially along with DC JSC’s amendments, will help ensure that survivors who report their assault can begin the process of healing and obtaining justice.”
The Sexual Assault Victims’ Rights Amendment Act will be voted on again and then passed onto the Mayor to be signed into law.
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