Roaring at the Face of Injustice: Celebrating Women Whistleblowers

Cesareo Manansala
March 26, 2024

What do Amazon, Google, Tesla, and Uber all have in common? Apart from being among the most successful and prolific tech companies on the planet, they also share the dubious distinction of being accused of gross misconduct by their own employees. Since the late 2010s, there have been multiple cases of unethical practices, corruption, mismanagement, and illegal activities against these corporations launched by employees-turned-whistleblowers who had witnessed or experienced these activities firsthand. Many of these whistleblowers are women, a factor which led them to become targets of retaliatory aggression by embittered, vindictive co-workers or managers, often of whom were men.

It is the grave truth that too many women whistleblowers would be the victim of retaliation by possibly vengeful male workplace associates. While it is illegal for an employer to retaliate against their workers just for exercising their rights, (as decreed by the Department of Labor’s whistleblower protection laws), too many whistleblowers would be subjected to acts of sexism, offensive misconduct, sexual harassment, and even possible threats of violence, just because they wished to report company misconduct, and, even jarringly, because they were of the female gender. A classic and ultimately tragic example would be the Karen Silkwood case, who blew the whistle on her employer, the Oklahoma-based Kerr-McGee Cimarron Fuel Fabrication Site. Silkwood became a labor union activist who reported alleged severe health violations such as plutonium contamination at the Kerr-McGee plant. Her claims would lead to retaliation and threats from unknown individuals and would possibly contribute to her sudden death via car crash in 1974. Following her untimely passing, Karen Silkwood would be known as America’s first nuclear whistleblower, who despite the dangers that threatened her well-being, never gave up her fight in doing the right thing for herself and her coworkers.

With March being Women’s History Month, Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival pays solemn and grateful tribute to all women whistleblowers who roared their voices in protest against workplace wrongdoing–and in doing so, also faced incredible odds. In the tradition of Karen Silkwood, we pay homage to female truthsayers of more recent times who risked their careers and even their lives to battle injustices in some of the world’s more notable names within big commerce.

Susan Joy Fowler Rigetti (nee Fowler), Uber, 2017

A former software engineer for Uber, Rigetti disclosed, via a 3,000 word blog post, accusations of vast sexual harassment during her time at the ride-sharing giant. She reported that Uber had housed a hostile work environment towards female employees, and that she herself was sexually-harassed by her manager, who repeatedly propositioned her for sex. To make matters worse, the company’s Human Resources department refused to punish Rigetti’s manager for his actions. As a result, she revealed her blog on Twitter, which was shared thousands of times and caught the attention of external probes, who promptly fired many officials at Uber. This led to the resignation of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, and widespread positive attention towards Rigetti for her actions. (

Christina Balan - Tesla, 2018

Balan voiced concerns over quality and safety issues during her time at Tesla, which she would allege that she was silenced, discredited, and released from the auto company. Balan also initiated arbitration on grounds of discrimination and retaliation with whistleblower status. Her arbitrator found that she was underpaid due to her under-leveled status, but not due to her gender. She was also denied whistleblower status. (A former Tesla engineer says the company silenced her entire team after they brought up safety and quality issues.

Chelsey Glasson - Google, 2019

User researcher-turned-worker’s rights advocate Glasson sued her employer Google on the grounds of pregnancy discrimination. She alleged that, despite being a strong, model employee, the company subjected her to various counts of discrimination while on maternity leave. Glasson also alleged that she was subjected to sexual harassment at a Mexico facility of the company years prior, as well as facing retaliation for her actions (She sued for pregnancy discrimination. Now she’s battling Google’s army of lawyers)

Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa - Amazon, 2020

Cunningham and Costa both worked as user experience designers at Amazon when they decided to develop a climate change initiative within the company. Calling themselves “Amazon Employees For Climate Justice,” they, along with other Amazon employees, presented their climate change initiative proposal to company leadership when the company itself announced a carbon offset plan. The company then asked the employees to withdraw their proposal. Cunningham delivered a speech to company CEO Jeff Bezos during the annual shareholder meeting, with the proposal still not approved. Cunningham and Costa would be terminated in 2020. Both women filed unlawful termination charges against Amazon to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Amazon would deny wrongdoing, but Amazon settled with Cunningham and Costa. (Amazon’s shareholder meeting turns testy as investors demand action on climate crisis and diversity

In spite of the hostilities these brave women whistleblowers had to face, many emerged victorious in their quests to achieve their goals. Not only do the whistleblowers’ themselves earn some or all of their satisfaction from their truth-seeking, but ALL employees of the greater good of their workplaces will ultimately benefit as well. 

Speak Truth to Power

You can help give more power and voice to whistleblowers by supporting the Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival. You will be helping to highlight civil and human rights violations across the globe. Call us at (870) 543-0024 or email us at

Contact us