Recent Blog Posts
- President Trump Revives Protections for Administrative Agency Whistleblowers by Passing the Whistleblower Protection Coordination Act On June 25, 2018, President Trump signed into law the Whistleblower Protection Coordination Act (the “Act”), permanently reinstating the Whistleblower Ombudsman Program, which was created in 2012 to encourage employees of federal government administrative agencies to report wrongdoing but expired on November 27, 2017 due to a five-year sunset clause.
The Act, which Congress passed with bipartisan support, reauthorizes a “Whistleblower Protection Coordinator” at each administrative agency’s Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) to educate agency employees about their rights to blow... More
- SEC Issues Largest Dodd-Frank Whistleblower “Bounty” Awards Ever On March 19, 2018, the SEC issued an Order jointly awarding two whistleblowers more than $49 million, and awarding a third whistleblower more than $33 million, for reporting information to the SEC that led to its successful prosecution of an enforcement action against the perpetrators of securities violations.
In 2010, the Dodd-Frank Act amended the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to include Section 21F, entitled “Securities Whistleblower Incentives and Protection.” Among other things, Section 21F established a whistleblower “bounty” program that... More
- U.S. Supreme Court Settles Circuit Split: Dodd-Frank’s Anti-Whistleblower Retaliation Protections Do Not Extend To Employees Who Do Not Report To The SEC On February 21, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court resolved a circuit split and ruled in Digital Realty Trust, Inc. v. Somers that Dodd-Frank’s anti-whistleblower retaliation provision (15 U.S.C. § 78u–6(h)) does not protect employees who report alleged securities violations only to their employers, and not to the SEC.
Paul Somers (“Somers”), a former Vice President of Portfolio Management for Digital Realty Trust, claimed that his employer violated the whistleblower protections of Dodd-Frank by terminating him in retaliation for complaining to management... More
- How the Trump Administration May Impact the Oversight and Enforcement of Dodd-Frank’s Whistleblower Protections On the campaign trail, President Trump vowed to “dismantle” Dodd-Frank. Dodd-Frank was enacted in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis to curtail risky investment activities and stop financial fraud through increased oversight and regulation of the banking and securities industries. Among other things, it amended the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, Securities Exchange Act, and Commodity Exchange Act to include monetary incentives for individuals to blow the whistle on suspected financial fraud and stronger protections for whistleblowers against retaliation by their employers.... More
- SEC Makes Cybersecurity an Examination Priority for 2016 Businesses of all sizes and in virtually every industry face the daily threat of a data breach or other cybersecurity event, as well as the challenge of managing the potentially catastrophic economic and reputational harm that can flow from such an incident. Further complicating matters is that these threats can come from any number of sources: hackers, phishers, spammers, bot-network operators, spyware and malware authors, insiders, other nations, organized criminal groups, and terrorists. SEC regulations require registered financial institutions—including broker-dealers,... More
- Relaxed Legal Standards That Favor SOX Whistleblowers Do Not Leave Employers Defenseless Section 806 of SOX prohibits publicly traded companies, as well as their subsidiaries, contractors, subcontractors, and agents, from taking adverse personnel actions against employees for reporting activity that they reasonably believe constitutes mail fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, securities fraud, or a violation of any Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) rule or federal law relating to fraud against shareholders. In recognition of the legislative intent underlying SOX—to provide strong and broad-based protections for employees who report suspected securities violations and... More
- Proposed “Whistleblower Augmented Reward and Nonretaliation Act” Aims to Increase Protections for Financial Industry Whistleblowers On February 25, 2016, Congressman Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD) and Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introduced the Whistleblower Augmented Reward and Nonretaliation Act of 2016 (or WARN Act of 2016) (pdf). The bill proposes expanded protections for individuals who blow the whistle on financial fraud and securities violations and, if enacted, could have significant implications for financial services employees and employers alike. Specifically, the WARN Act of 2016 aims to strengthen the protections and incentives available to financial crimes whistleblowers by... More
- 2nd Circuit Expands Dodd-Frank Anti-retaliation Protection To Cover Internal Whistleblowing On September 10, 2015, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Berman v. [email protected] LLC that an employee who reports an alleged securities violation only to his or her employer, and not to the SEC, is nevertheless covered by the anti-retaliation protections afforded by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (“Dodd-Frank”).
Berman, a former finance director of [email protected], claimed that his employer and its corporate parent, WPP Group USA, Inc., violated the whistleblower protections of... More
- Sixth Circuit Rules That a Reasonable Belief About Unlawful Conduct Is Enough to State a Sarbanes-Oxley Retaliation Claim In its May 28th, 2015 decision in Rhinehimer v. U.S. Bancorp Investments, Inc. (pdf), the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that an employee who reports alleged unlawful conduct has engaged in protected activity for the purposes of a retaliation claim under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (“SOX”), 18 U.S.C. § 1514A, as long as he or she has an objectively reasonable belief that the activity reported is prohibited under SOX. The Sixth Circuit has joined the Second and Third Circuit Courts of Appeal... More
- Eleventh Circuit Rules That State Whistleblower Law Is Preempted By National Bank Act On May 5, 2015, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Wiersum v. U.S. Bank, N.A. (pdf) that the National Bank Act (“NBA”), 12 U.S.C. §24 (Fifth), preempted a bank officer’s state law whistleblower claim that he was wrongfully terminated for opposing the bank’s alleged unlawful conduct. This was a first-impression issue for the Eleventh Circuit, and the majority concluded that the state law claim was preempted because it directly conflicted with the power Congress vested in federally chartered banks... More