Abuse of Medical Assessments to Dismiss Whistleblowers

by a member of Whistleblowers Australia

December 1997

This document is located on the

Suppression of dissent website

in the section on Documents

Stories from whistleblowers suggests that a repeated and highly consistent aspect of the whistleblowing experience is the abuse by the employer of medical and psychiatric appointments as a mechanism for intimidating whistleblowers and avoiding the need to address the real issues.

Referral for psychiatric assessment comes after the whistleblower has persisted in raising a workplace issue of fraud, corruption or mismanagement which is internally investigated but not properly addressed. The referral may also come after the whistleblower has been formally charged with internal or external disciplinary charges based on a fabricated wrongdoing and where that charge or those charges have been dropped.


Removal of Support for the Whistleblower

In life outside an organisation, being falsely accused of wrongdoing is stressful. There are however, often people who will stand up for the accused, and evidence which can be obtained to defend oneself.

The effect of being falsely charged within an organisation is particularly stressful for the whistleblower for the following reasons:


Referral for Medical Assessment

The whistleblower, on the recommendation of their family doctor, often takes considerable time off work on stress leave and lodges a compensation claim for induced stress or victimisation against their employer.

Rather than now addressing the workplace issues, a vindictive management chooses to refer the employee for medical assessment. Management tries to make out that the whistleblower is (i) a malingerer and (ii) unfit for continued duty ... and therefore should be retired or dismissed.

Ironically, but not unexpectedly, whistleblowers often have very good work attendance up to the time they blow the whistle, but this fact is conveniently ignored by internal investigating agencies and by medical assessment agencies. Internal investigations also tend to ignore all the other blindingly obvious contradictions and indications that they are not being told the truth by managers about the workplace situation. (These must wait until much later when they are exposed in the media or in the courts.)

Regrettably, there are psychiatrists who are willing to give highly questionable opinion stating 'psychiatric disorder' or 'psychiatric illness' or 'psychosis' as the diagnosis.

Even more disconcerting is the fact that a number of government medical agencies (supposedly "independent medical advice") have been willing to accept false and misleading information from the employer, to pretend that the workplace issues do not exist, and recommend psychiatric assessment. Pressures for health service provider agencies to become self funding seem to have confused the role of delivering a "service" (outcome to the **satisfaction** of the referring body) with the need to offer an objective opinion.

A fair and independent assessment of the situation would involve identification and highlighting of the workplace issues rather further victimisation of the whistleblower. The mental health and safety of the workplace should also be taken into account by any medical assessment.


The Whistleblower's Challenge

The medical and psychiatric appointments of the whistleblower (supported by false and misleading information written by management) are for the following purpose:


Whistleblowers Australia Survey

Whistleblowers Australia is conducting a survey on abuse by health service providers who supply psychiatric findings to assist employers dismiss whistleblowers. You can obtain more information by contacting Whistleblowers Australia.