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Proskauer Whistleblower Defense

New York’s First Department: Harassment Claims Not Barred By Whistleblower Claim

Posted in State-Specific Whistleblower Claims

whistle5As reported by New York Law Journal reporter Ben Bedell, the New York’s Appellate Division, First Department recently held that employees could file suit against their former employer for both sexual harassment and violation of New York’s whistleblower protection law even though the statute bars employees from seeking remedies available under any other law. Continue Reading

SEC Pays More Than $3 Million Whistleblower Award

Posted in SEC

secOn July 17, 2015, the SEC announced a whistleblower award of more than $3 million to a “company insider” whose information assisted the SEC in unveiling a “complex fraud.” This payout (which is the SEC’s third largest) follows the SEC’s announcement in April that it awarded a Compliance Officer a whistleblower bounty of approximately $1.5 million. Continue Reading

N.J. High Court Rules “Watchdog” Employees Protected Under State Whistleblower Law

Posted in State-Specific Whistleblower Claims

New_Jersey_state_seal.jpgOn July 15, 2015, the Supreme Court of New Jersey ruled that an employee who monitors corporate compliance—a so-called “watchdog” employee—can engage in protected activity by blowing the whistle under the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (“CEPA”) in the course of performing the tasks and functions of the job for which he or she was hired.  Lippman v. Ethicon, No. A-65/66-13.  In so ruling, the Court rejected a well-established line of lower court cases holding that activities which are part and parcel of an employee’s assigned responsibilities cannot amount to whistleblowing—otherwise known as the “job-duties” exception. Continue Reading

Cal. Court Limits Protected Activity Under Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Provision

Posted in Dodd Frank, SOX Whistleblower Decisions

NDCalIn Nazif v. Computer Sciences Corporation, No. 13-cv-5498 (N.D. Cal. June 17, 2015), the Northern District of California granted Defendant Computer Sciences Corp. (Company) summary judgment on Plaintiff Nazif’s Dodd-Frank whistleblower retaliation claim, concluding there was no evidence that his purported belief that the Company violated securities laws was objectively reasonable under Section 806 of SOX.  This case illustrates the intersection between the SOX and Dodd-Frank whistleblower provisions and constructs a high hurdle to whistleblowers raising issues of securities fraud. Continue Reading

Second Circuit Entertains Argument on Scope of Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Provision

Posted in Dodd Frank

2d cirThe Second Circuit recently entertained oral argument in Berman v. Neo@Ogilvy, focusing on whether the Dodd-Frank whistleblower protection provision covers individuals who only complain internally about alleged securities law violations rather than reaching out to the SEC.  We previously posted on the Southern District of New York’s December 5, 2014 ruling in this matter that internal reports are not protected under Dodd-Frank, as was held in the Asadi case out of the Fifth Circuit.  We also discussed the SEC’s amicus brief in this matter here. Continue Reading

Self-Help Discovery Does Not Immunize Employee from Prosecution, Says NJ Supreme Court

Posted in State-Specific Whistleblower Claims

New_Jersey_state_seal.jpgOn June 23, 2015, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that Quinlan v. Curtiss-Wright Corporation, 204 N.J. 239 (2010), does not bar criminal prosecutions arising from an employee’s removal of confidential company documents to support a discrimination claim.  State v. Saavedra, No. A-68-13. Continue Reading

6th Circuit Reverses Itself, Abandons “Definitively and Specifically” Standard For SOX Whistleblower Protected Activity

Posted in SOX Whistleblower Decisions

sealOn May 28, 2015, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that an employee who reports allegedly fraudulent conduct engages in protected activity under SOX where he or she has a reasonable belief that the activity reported is prohibited under Section 806—even if that belief is mistaken.  Rhinehimer v. U.S. Bancorp Investments, Inc., No. 13-cv-6641.  In doing so, it abandoned the “definitively and specifically” standard, which was particularly favorable to employers. Continue Reading

OSHA Updates Whistleblower Manual, Focusing On Damages And Settlement Agreements

Posted in OSHA Administration

oshaOn May 21, 2015, OSHA—which has responsibility for investigating and enforcement under 22 whistleblower retaliation statutes—released an updated edition of its Whistleblower Investigations Manual (the Manual), the first such update since September 2011.  The new edition provides additional guidance to investigators on a variety of issues, with the majority of changes related to potentially available damages and settlement agreements. Continue Reading

California District Court Holds that Internal Tipsters Are Protected Under Dodd-Frank

Posted in Dodd Frank

nd calOn May 5, 2015, in Somers v. Digital Realty Trust Inc., No. C-14-5180, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California held that an internal complaint of an alleged securities law violation is sufficient to invoke the Dodd-Frank Act’s anti-retaliation protection.   Continue Reading