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Proskauer Whistleblower Defense

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

CFTC Whistleblower Awards On The Horizon

Posted in Dodd Frank

CFTCIn a recent interview with Law360 (subscription required), Chris Ehrman, the Director of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s Whistleblower Office, predicted that the number and size of the CFTC’s whistleblower awards will increase in the near future.   Ehrman also said that the agency will conduct “straight marketing” to ensure that potential whistleblowers are aware of the agency’s whistleblower bounty program. Continue Reading

No “Pleasure” for Florida Whistleblower

Posted in State-Specific Whistleblower Claims

Despite 14 pages of vigorous dissent, a majority of a three-judge panel of the Eleventh Circuit has done the right thing and joined the Fourth, Sixth and Ninth Circuits in holding that the National Bank Act (“NBA”) preempts state wrongful discharge claims.  In its May 5, 2015, decision, the majority concluded that the NBA’s language empowering banks to “dismiss . . . officers or any of them at pleasure” conflicted with the Florida Whistleblower Act (“FWA”) prohibiting retaliatory discharge and, therefore, affirmed the district court’s dismissal of a claim under the FWA on federal preemption grounds. Wiersum v. U.S. Bank, N.A., No. 14-12289 (11th Cir. May 5, 2015).

WSJ Report On Delayed SEC Whistleblower Bounty Awards

Posted in SEC

SECA Wall Street Journal article (subscription required) dated May 4, 2015 reports that a backlog of tips received by the SEC Office of the Whistleblower as part of its bounty program has resulted in a delay in paying awards to tipsters.  According to the article, of the 297 tipsters who have applied for awards since 2011, 83% have not received a decision as to whether they will receive a monetary award.  Continue Reading

Senate Approves Auto Industry Whistleblower Bill

Posted in Legislation

auto-assembly-lineUnder the “Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblower Act” (the Bill), which the U.S. Senate approved on April 28, 2015, whistleblower protections and bounties would be available to individuals who report motor vehicle defects.  In particular, the Bill would allow employees and contractors of automakers, parts suppliers, and dealerships to receive a monetary award for providing new information to the federal government related to motor vehicle defects and other failures to comply with federal laws that could create a risk of death or serious injury.  Continue Reading

OSHA’s Recent Guidance on Whistleblower Retaliation Investigations

Posted in OSHA Administration

DOLThe Directorate of Whistleblower Protection Programs recently issued a guidance memorandum titled “Clarification of the Investigative Standard for OSHA Whistleblower Investigations,” for the apparent purpose of clarifying the standards for its whistleblower investigations.  A review of this memorandum provides employers with insight as to the standard OSHA uses to determine whether a merits finding is in order. Continue Reading