A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision expands protections under the federal whistleblower law enacted after the collapse of Enron.
Texas Public Radio reports the U.S. Supreme Court ruling means the federal whistleblower law protects not just employees of a public company, but also the company’s contractors, including lawyers, accountants and investment firms. In writing for the majority, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said with Sarbanes-Oxley, Congress provided protection from retaliation for employees and contracts alike to ensure they would not be intimidated into remaining silent about corporate wrongdoing.
An experienced whistleblower attorney can use any number of state and federal acts to protect employees from retaliation for reporting dangerous working conditions, corporate fraud or other wrongdoing.
Sarbanes-Oxley: Provides criminal penalty of up to 10 years in prison for anyone who retaliates against someone providing evidence of the commission or possible commission of a federal offense.
Texas Whistleblower Act: Protects public employees who make good-faith reports of violation of law by their employer.
False Claims Act/Qui tam: Originally passed in 1863, the False Claims Act aimed to address fraud among military suppliers. It allows those not affiliated with government to file fraud claims against federal contractors that are defrauding the government. These Qui tam claims can make the whistleblower eligible for substantial rewards based on the amount of savings to the government. In such claims, being identified as the original source of the information is critical, which makes early consultation with an experienced attorney equally vital as claimants must typically be first to file a lawsuit.
Dodd-Frank Act: The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 offers substantial protections and incentives for Wall Street whistleblowers. The Security and Exchange commission’s whistleblower program authorizes the SEC to provide reward for those providing information concerning SEC violations by companies required to report to the SEC.
Employment Law: The U.S. Department of Labor provides a host of protections to employee whistleblowers and those concerned about retaliation in the workplace. Employers are prohibited by the protections from taking adverse action in retaliation, including firing or laying off, demotion, denying overtime pay or promotion, disciplining, intimidation or reduction of pay or hours.
While whistleblowers benefit from various state and federal laws in place to either encourage them to come forward or shield them from retaliation, the patchwork of often contradictory laws can make such cases complex. Other protections are enjoyed under the Lloyd-La Follette Act of 1912 (passed to guarantee the right of federal employees to furnish information to Congress), as well as in many of the nation’s environmental laws, including the Clean Water Act of 1972, the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (1976), Toxic Substance Control Act of 1976, and the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974.
The Military Whistleblower Protection Act also offers certain protections to members of the law enforcement community. While the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006 pays whistleblowers up to 30 percent of tax revenue recouped by the Internal Revenue Service based on provided information.