On February 16, Parliament approved the law laundryman on the protection of whistleblowers. By transposing a European directive of October 23, 2019, it reinforces the protection granted by the law known as ” christmas tree 2 of 2016. An advance for which 36 associations and unions fought together for the Chamber of Complainants, explains its general delegate, Glen Millot. Meet.
Legal News: What is the origin of this law laundrymanaimed at improving the protection of whistleblowers?
Glen Millot : This law was intended to apply the European directive adopted in 2019, that is, three years after the law. christmas tree 2. The latter only protected the whistleblower, defined as a person who had personal knowledge of the information he disclosed. This had the consequence that a company could very well intimidate the relatives of the whistleblower. And then, when a whistleblower gets a puncture in the car’s wheels, it can affect his relatives… The European directive had innovated by taking into account the relatives of the whistleblower, considered as “facilitators”. He considered that the complainant’s family could receive threats or be intimidated, for which he needed protection. This directive also required Member States to abolish the obligation to go through the internal channel to launch the alert. The argument was obvious: it was about mitigating the risk of destruction of evidence and retaliation for the whistleblower. France, like the other Member States, had to transpose this directive before the end of 2021. Like other countries, it is a bit late. but the law laundryman goes beyond the transposition of the directive.
AJ: How does this law work? laundryman Does it go beyond the European directive that it transposes?
Glen Millot : The law laundryman innovates and goes further because it includes non-profit legal entities in these facilitators. This seems essential to us. The whistleblower is isolated and fragile. A friend or family member can help, but not as much as a non-profit organization, either in terms of advice or procedure. The directive also urged states to be creative. She urged them to financially and psychologically support the whistleblowers. The law laundryman has taken a creative step in this direction: when a complainant is attacked through a gag procedure -of defamation or slanderous denunciation- he can ask the judge for a provision in court costs at the attacker’s expense. If he is deemed to be acting in good faith – which is necessary for him to qualify as a whistleblower – he can permanently keep the deposit paid by the attacker, even if he loses his court case. This helps whistleblowers, but only those who are in the process. Nothing is planned for someone who has been laid off, blacklisted and can’t find a job…
AJ: On the other hand, you did not obtain, as you requested, whistleblower support funds…
Glen Millot : The whole question is how to feed that support fund. We had imagined that it could be fed with the fines that would come as a result of the new law. Fines still need to be steep and sufficient. Other budget line mechanisms have been devised. For example, that it be fed by a contribution from insurance companies, in terms of insurance funds for victims. We come up against article 40 of the Constitution, which prevents parliamentarians from defining the budget. Therefore, they could not include the creation of a support fund in the law.
AJ: How did the associations weigh?
Glen Millot : We work with MP Sylvain Waserman, the creator of this bill. He had previously been at the origin of a recommendation from the Council of Europe, which went beyond the directive. He also had interlocutors like the Medef and the FNSEA and was looking for a compromise. He did not want the complainants to be legal persons. We also work downstream with all parliamentary groups in the National Assembly and the Senate, to whom we submit amendment proposals. We have also launched questioning campaigns against parliamentarians, seeking to sensitize public opinion, so that it demands to strengthen the protection of whistleblowers. We publish press releases, analysis. We have had very positive feedback. The parliamentary groups appropriated our amendments. We have had conversations with the government in the hope that it will take advantage of this need to create a support fund. We didn’t get what we expected at this point. But we were pleased to see that the directive had not been transposed at least as we feared. Sylvain Waserman got the green light from the government, in particular to facilitate legal entities.
AJ: This law laundryman is it progress?
Glen Millot : This really is progress. We have avoided a setback at certain points. For example, the Senate committee wanted to resize the definition of a whistleblower, eliminating alerts about risks and threats to the general interest. This would have had the effect of hampering all non-crime alerts in the area of health and the environment. We have seen, for example, in the case of the guitar pick that years had passed before what Irène Frachon revealed was considered a crime. At that time, she would not have been considered a whistleblower.
AJ: Are whistleblowers properly protected today?
Glen Millot : Personally, I am quite critical when it comes to protecting whistleblowers. If we protected them, there would be no retaliation. There are reprisals and we seek to repair. More than a protection law, the law laundryman It is for me a law of reparation. We had also proposed that the whistleblower have the same status as a protected employee. This would imply having authorization from the labor inspectorate to fire them. This proposal was not accepted. The law christmas tree 2 prohibited retaliation but did not prevent it from occurring and whistleblowers find themselves, despite the law, in situations that take 3 years to live, or even more. Protection comes after the fact, when the damage is done, and the law laundryman shouldn’t change much! The alert culture must evolve in companies. It’s a bet on the future…
AJ: Do you think that companies are acquiring a culture of denunciation?
Glen Millot : We feel a different mood from the employers. It did not prevent legal persons from being considered as facilitators. Perhaps the leaders realize that they have an interest in the warnings that are being given. I often take the example of Spanghero’s horse lasagna. Opinion remembers the horse lasagna, but not the brand. The entire industry was splattered. A whistleblower could have spared other companies in the industry the damage of a loss of reputation. On the other hand, companies feared that a Pandora’s box would open. In the House of Whistleblowers we have received 700 requests for support in 2 years of existence. The Defender of Rights has received a few hundred: this represents 1% of the cases it deals with in the role of mediator for the French Republic. This is not the dreaded tsunami.
AJ: What are you waiting for now?
Glen Millot : We cannot limit ourselves to protection. In all the laws on the alert the deal has never been resolved. One way to deter whistleblowers is to make sure there is no treatment behind it. The Defender of Rights is supposed to protect whistleblowers and direct them to the institutions that will respond to the alert. only the law squishy, of April 2013, of public health and the environment considered heeding the alert, and lost most of its prerogatives. The complainants do not understand that their interlocutors do not take their complaint into account. That is why many times they end up going to the media, because denouncing them is useless.