Is Whistleblowing Worth the Trouble?

Whistleblowers – people who report unethical or illegal activity within an organization – are necessary to keep corruption out of the companies they work for. Recent news cycles have brought the word to my attention more so than usual, so I decided to do some research to better understand how whistleblowers are protected under the law.

Whistleblowers are important in keeping not only safe work environments but safe societies, as well. If companies or government entities were allowed to get away with whatever they wanted, we would live in a more dangerous society. But, because their testimonies can be so devastating for the governments or companies they work for, whistleblowers are often threatened with retaliation. They could be fired. That’s why legal protections exist so people can continue to bring corruption to light.

Some whistleblowers, however, may run into even more problems than they normally would if they revealed confidential information that could hurt a third party (for instance, a patient’s medical records). There are a lot of nuances and narrow paths to tread, which is why it is always a big deal when a whistleblower does come forward.

How It’s Done

There are two types of whistleblowing:

  1. Private sector
    1. If the company is in the private sector, meaning they’re not under direct governmental control, the whistleblower may be in more danger of losing their job, their safety, or their ability to generate income if they come forward with their information. 
  2. Public sector
    1. In the public sector, such as local governments or even the White House, there may be chances of the whistleblower facing criminal charges, depending on the severity of the information they reveal.

A whistleblower may choose to reveal their testimony within the organization they work for, or they may give it over to a third party, such as a news channel or a blog, to make it public. The latter is the kind of whistleblowing the general public is most aware of because the entire scandal is revealed from the start. When the whistleblower keeps their testimony within the organization, the public might not find out about the corruption until after decisions have been made or people have been fired. 

One thing that was made abundantly clear to me during my research is that a whistleblower always needs a good attorney. Whistleblowers are under a lot of pressure, and many are threatened or fired over their testimonies. As Austin-based whistleblower attorney’s office, Melton Law Firm, states, not all workers are protected under the same whistleblower laws, and people who are considering whistleblowing should do their best to understand their rights first. Even so, a lawyer may be able to help someone get compensated for lost income if they have already been fired for exposing corruption.

Tackling the Important Stuff Early

No matter the industry I study or research, it seems that taking care of business as soon as possible is a universal truth. Seriously, whether you are an international, Fortune 500 conglomerate or a small, “mom and pop” shop in your local town, business experts recommend that a company takes care of potentially impactful business as soon as possible.

However, the need for efficiency and timeliness manifests differently dependent upon a company’s particular context. For example, if you are a smaller company, the need to be timely might be because if a particular issue is ignored, customers will leave.

But for other businesses, the need for a quick response to an issue could result from sincere legal concerns. One example could be to respond to a lawsuit quickly, in order to prevent being forced by a judge to pay a hefty fine. Or another example: responding to letters from the Internal Revenue Service about a tax controversy.

According to the THEVOZ Attorneys, LLC, the Internal Revenue Service will send letters to your business if the agency finds a discrepancy or problem in your tax filings. These letters do not mean that the agency’s findings are correct, it is merely a warning to review their potential finding and react in some way.

Some businesses will immediately see that the Internal Revenue Service’s claim is incorrect. The next step would be to hire a qualified tax lawyer. This legal counsel, from places such as THEVOZ Attorneys, could then work with the accounting and financial records of your team to file a response to the initial IRS examination.

For many businesses, the problem could stop there; the Internal Revenue Service could see their error and end the process. However, for many others, the process could require an appeal. Again, a qualified tax lawyer will be your best bet in filing a response to the IRS Office of Appeals.

As you can imagine, the United States tax code is a pretty complex set of rules and regulations. Like it or not, the tax code was not designed so that the average layman can read it and be able to navigate the legal headache whilst still running a business.

And even if your business is large enough that you can delegate out matters and solely focus on figuring out the process of an appeal or response, it is simply not in your company’s best interest to be hard-headed. Hire an attorney that knows what they are doing with the IRS examination process that could include:

  • An initial examination or audit letter from the IRS
  • A response to the IRS from your company
  • A rejection or approval from the IRS
  • An appeal to the IRS Office of Appeals from your company, if applicable

Does that sound like it is difficult to navigate? That is because the IRS is a bureaucratic machine that could swallow up your company without hesitation. Play it safe and use professionals to handle your IRS tax issue.

The History of Spring Break

Though many people like to spend their spring break on the water, the beach isn’t for everyone. In the thick of winter, I wanted to get a jump on some interesting places to visit for spring break that included a variety of coastal and landlocked options. However, the more I looked up travel destinations, the more I started to wonder why spring break is a tradition. Some rudimentary research lead me to a couple of possible explanations:

Celebrating Spring Dates Back to Ancient Greece

With regard to Western civilization, welcoming the arrival of spring with festivals and parties can be traced all the way back to Ancient Greece and Rome. Understood as a season for rebirth and fertility, in the spring, Ancient Greeks and Romans would celebrate the god of wine, Dionysus or Bacchus with extravagant parties rooted in hedonistic indulgence. Of course, spring break as we know it today is only tenuously related to these celebrations, but it does provide some historical perspective to the current spring celebrations.

Las Olas Beach and Casino Pool

In 1936, Sam Ingram, the swim coach from Colgate University, began taking his team down to Fort Lauderdale, Florida to train in Florida’s only Olympic-sized pool. This pool was located at the Las Olas Beach and Casino. The influx of people during the springtime inspired Fort Lauderdale’s city officials to host the College Coaches’ Swim Forum two years later in 1938. This event quickly drew hundreds of people to the hotel and evolved into the celebratory spring party that we’ve come to associate with spring break.

These gatherings persisted into the 1960s, while the popularity of the spring events at the Las Olas Beach and Casino Pool was somewhat widely known, the release of major motion pictured brought widespread attention to the tradition.

Where the Boys Are

In 1960 the film Where the Boys Are was released. The film is set in the midst of the spring break culture that had sprung up in the decades since. The story centered around college students who made the pilgrimage down to Florida’s beaches in search of a good time.

MTV Spring Break

Perhaps the knowledge of this history inspired MTV to declare the site of their first spring break special in Fort Lauderdale. MTV’s often two-week long programming and broadcasting from the beach is what has brought the generation-long culture of spring breaking into the modern day. Though the city of Fort Lauderdale has since attempted to distance itself from the party persona that it has acquired over the years, many other coastal cities in the United State have happily taken up the mantle, welcoming college students and tourists alike.

Myrtle Beach: A Spring Break Outlier

Although it has 60 miles of coastline, many people see Myrtle Beach as a spring break outlier, but it provides visitors with more activities than many other beach destinations. Biking and golfing are both popular outdoor activities in addition to swimming. The Law Office of William J. Luse mentions on his site that cycling tourists may be injured due to intersection accidents, sideswiping, failure to yield, drunk driving, and distracted driving. Tourism spawns many businesses tailored to visitors. Many tourists enjoy the temperature-controlled ferris wheel that allows them to see far into the distance.

What To Do When Your Divorce Isn’t Going Smoothly

No one expects divorce to be easy. It’s an awful experience at the end of what has become a bad marriage. In the best case, it’s swift and leads to the freedom and relief those getting divorced are looking for. But in the worst cases, it is expensive, stressful, long, and in a word, contested.

Most divorces aren’t quite that bad. 90 percent, according to the BB Law Group, PLLC, are in fact uncontested, with both partners agreeing on how things will be split up without too much fighting involved.

For 10 percent, though, there’s a lot of hard work still ahead.

Before getting to what you should do if you are one of those heading for a contested divorce, it’s important to outline just what the term means. An uncontested divorce is one in which both parties have sketched out the divorce process before pursuing the actual legal divorce. That means everyone knows who gets the house, who gets the car, how the bills and debts will be divided up, and where the kids are going during the week and the weekend. That situation is where 90 percent of future divorcees are as they get the process started.

A contested divorce is the exact opposite of all that. There is at very least disagreement (often outright enmity) over how everything will be split up. Perhaps one spouse wants full custody of the kids, or the two spouses can’t agree who is going to take the house and who is going to move out. Perhaps some debts were taken on during the marriage that one partner feels they aren’t responsible for at all. Or, perhaps there’s a small business that both founded and neither wants to lose.

These situations can (but don’t have to) involve more anger and emotional hurt than uncontested divorces. As some of the above examples suggest, they may simply involve much more complex finances and property than other divorces.

Now that the terms are defined, what should you do if you’re heading towards a contested divorce? The first thing is to try your best to avoid it. If you are in a position to work with your spouse while they are still technically your spouse, try your hardest to resolve the issues together.

If you can’t, for whatever reason, then your next step should be to find the best possible lawyer you can, particularly one that specializes in contested divorces.

Once the process begins, your lawyer and your spouse’s lawyer will most likely try to resolve what you and your spouse could not, namely, a fair division of property, debts, and custody. If that breaks down, then you’ll have to prepare yourself for a trial in which a judge has final say over how things are divvied up.

As you can see, this is a process that can get expensive and take a while, so the more you can resolve upfront the better. Try to convince your spouse of this as well before going too far down this road unless you have to.

Smells like trouble in Benihana

It seems Tori Spelling of all people has decided to take on the giant of Japanese steakhouses, Benihana. Spelling has now settled a personal injury suit she filed after she was allegedly burned watching her chef flip cutlery and eggs into the air with remarkable dexterity.

Spelling’s legislative success comes after what appears on the surface to be a complete accident. In 2015, she slipped in a Benihana restaurant and in the process of falling, she grabbed a nearby grill (poor choice, Tori, the ground would have been kinder to you). The result was a trip to the hospital and a skin graft after it was discovered she had second- and third-degree burns on her right arm.

For some reason, all of this, it was decided, was Benihana’s fault. The famous restaurant that has been flinging Japanese food skyward since 1964 has been found liable for damages since a burn on Ms. Spelling’s arm apparently harmed her earning potential. Exactly what that potential was at this point, is all speculation. Perhaps she might have made a better wristwatch model otherwise.

Benihana was also on the hook for hospital expenses, medicine, and “general damages,” whatever that means.

The exact amount of the settlement hasn’t been released, but it’s likely to have been a bundle. Personal injury lawsuits tend to work in bundles. It’s almost enough to make you want to run out and fall on a Benihana grill just to get a piece of that personal injury pie, or steak in this case.

The money will come in good stead, surely, since Tori Spelling has had notoriously bad luck with holding onto her money. The former 90210 star, and reality star, has had her troubles, to put it mildly. Those troubles were bad enough that her father, Aaron Spelling, who created much of the best-loved trash television of the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s, left her $800,000 out of his $600,000,000 fortune. Remember to be kind to your parents, folks. Especially if they’re worth that kind of money.

Though $800,000 seems like a lot on its own to most of us, it doesn’t go far in the land of annual plastic surgery visits to keep up with the cutthroat competition for those wristwatch catalog modeling jobs.

We’ll have to hope that Benihana has been more generous than Tori’s father and put her in a better way for the future. Ms. Spelling has a young child named Beau to think about, and we wouldn’t want her crashing into Pottery Barn shelves or throwing IKEA furniture upon herself in a desperate attempt at a future income.

So, let’s hope Benihana has treated Tori well for the time being. And while we’re at it, let’s all help restore some of that lost Benihana income and get some lunch, shall we?