Harris Mufson

Harris Mufson

Senior Counsel

Harris Mufson is a senior counsel in the Labor & Employment Law Department and a member of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration and Whistleblowing & Retaliation Groups.

Adept at counseling clients at every turn of the litigation process, Harris represents employers in a variety of industries, including financial services, retail, health care, entertainment, sports and legal, with respect to a wide range of labor and employment law matters. These include compensation disputes, employment discrimination and retaliation, whistleblowing, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, defamation, breach of contract, non-competition agreements and wage-and-hour issues. He regularly appears in state and federal courts, as well as in proceedings before the American Arbitration Association, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, JAMS, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and other federal and state agencies.

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Jury Rejects Whistleblower Claim By Former SpaceX Employee

On June 7, 2017, a California jury returned a 9-3 verdict, dismissing whistleblower claims brought by a former Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (“SpaceX”) employee.  Jason Blasdell v. Space Exploration Technologies Corp. et al., Case No. BC 615112 (Cal. Super., LA County). Jason Blasdell, who was employed as an Avionics Test Technician by SpaceX, a space … Continue Reading

Second Circuit Affirms the Dismissal of a SOX Claim for Failing to Meet the “Reasonable Belief” Standard

On June 1, 2017, the Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a Sarbanes-Oxley Act (“SOX”) whistleblower retaliation claim brought by a former Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. (“Company”) employee because the employee lacked a reasonable belief that the Company engaged in any fraudulent conduct.  Kantin v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., No. 16-1091-cv (2d Cir. June 1, … Continue Reading

ACA Retaliation Claim Survives Despite No Complaint About ACA Provisions

On April 28, 2017, the United States Department of Labor Administrative Review Board (“ARB”) allowed a whistleblower retaliation claim under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) to proceed even though the purported protected activity alleged in the complaint made no reference to ACA provisions.  The case is Gallas v. The Medical Center of … Continue Reading

The Northern District of New York Applies the “Reasonable Belief” Standard

On May 11, 2017, the Northern District of New York applied the Second Circuit’s standard for evaluating a Dodd-Frank retaliation claim in response to a motion to dismiss under F.R.C.P. Rule 12(b)(6).  The court denied the employer’s motion to dismiss unlawful retaliation claims brought by a former employee under Dodd-Frank, finding that the whistleblower had … Continue Reading

California Federal Court Upholds $8 Million Jury Verdict In Former General Counsel’s Whistleblower Lawsuit

Recently, a California federal court denied the defendant–employer’s motion for a new trial, upholding the jury’s $7.96 million verdict finding that the Company terminated its former general counsel for reporting alleged Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations.  See Sanford S. Wadler v. Bio-Rad Labs., Inc. et al., 2017 WL 1910057 (N.D. Cal. May 10, 2017).… Continue Reading

SEC Issues Another Whistleblower Bounty Award

On May 2, 2017, the Securities and Exchanges Commission issued a Dodd-Frank whistleblower award of more than $500,000 to an unidentified company employee.  According to the SEC, the individual reported information that prompted an SEC investigation and resulted enforcement action by the agency.  Jane Norberg, Chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower stated that … Continue Reading

SEC Announces First Whistleblower Award During Trump Era

On April 25, 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission issued a Dodd-Frank whistleblower award of nearly $4 million.  This was the first bounty award that was issued from start-to-finish (i.e. from the preliminary determination stage through final order) since Trump’s inauguration.  To maintain the whistleblower’s confidentiality, the SEC declined to disclose the organization involved.  The agency did acknowledge, however, that … Continue Reading

Third Circuit Revives In-House Attorney’s Whistleblower Claim

On April 12, 2017, the Third Circuit partially revived a former in-house attorney’s whistleblower retaliation lawsuit against his previous employer.  Danon v. Vanguard Group, Inc., No. 16-cv-2881. Plaintiff, a former in-house tax lawyer, previously raised retaliation claims against the Company in New York State Court under the New York False Claims Act, alleging he was … Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court Passes On Opportunity To Address Scope of Dodd-Frank “Whistleblower” Provision

On Monday, March 20, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in Verble v. Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, LLC. (No. 16-946), thereby declining an opportunity to resolve a conflict amongst circuit courts as to whether Dodd Frank’s anti-retaliation protections extend to employees who do not report an alleged securities violation … Continue Reading

SEC Reduces Whistleblower Bounty Based On Culpability And Delayed Reporting

On February 28, 2017, in an Order almost entirely devoid of detail, the SEC announced that a whistleblower will receive 20% of any monetary sanctions collected in an enforcement action commenced as a result of the whistleblower’s tip. The SEC is giving this “reduced” award while acknowledging that the whistleblower (1) was “culpable” in the … Continue Reading

S.D.N.Y. Dismisses Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Retaliation Claim

In one of the first cases to address the standard governing a motion for summary judgment in a Dodd-Frank whistleblower retaliation case, Judge Jed S. Rakoff ruled that two former executives of Vista Outdoor Inc. (the Company) had failed to show that their terminations were causally connected to vague complaints about internal Company controls.  Vista … Continue Reading

E.D. Pennsylvania Limits Protected Activity Under SOX

In Westawski v. Merck & Co., No. 14-cv-3239 (E.D. Pa. Oct. 18, 2016), the Eastern District of Pennsylvania granted Defendant Merck & Co. (Company) summary judgment on Plaintiff Joni Westawski’s (Plaintiff) SOX whistleblower retaliation claim, concluding that her purported belief that the Company violated securities laws was not objectively reasonable.… Continue Reading

OSHA Issues New Guidance Regarding Whistleblower Settlements

OSHA has issued new guidance on approving settlement agreements in whistleblower cases, revising portions of its Whistleblower Investigations Manual.  The guidance, dated August 23 but not released until September 15, states that settlements approved by OSHA cannot contain provisions discouraging employees from making future disclosures or contacting the government.  It also sets forth other settlement … Continue Reading

CFTC Proposes New Amendments to its Whistleblower Rules

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC” or the “Commission”) has proposed numerous amendments to the Whistleblower Rules found in Part 165 of the CFTC’s Regulations. The Commission seeks to enhance the process for reviewing whistleblower claims and clarify staff authority to administer the whistleblower program through the proposed amendments. Significantly, the CFTC has proposed … Continue Reading

Wisconsin District Court Follows 5th Circuit: Internal Tipsters Are Not Considered “Whistleblowers” Under Dodd-Frank

On August 12, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin in Lamb v. Rockwell Automation Inc., No. 15-CV-1415-JPS (E.D. Wis. Aug. 12, 2016) held that the Dodd-Frank whistleblower protection provision (Section 922) only protects individuals who provide information to the SEC.  In so holding, the court adopted the Fifth Circuit’s holding … Continue Reading

SEC Affirms Denial of Bounties to Three Purported Whistleblowers

On July 19, 2016, the SEC issued an order upholding the SEC Claims Review Staff’s (“CRS”) Preliminary Determination denying three claims for whistleblower awards.  The SEC’s order explains how the claimants’ bounty requests were properly denied for failing to meet the SEC’s eligibility requirements.  As we have previously discussed here, all but a few whistleblower … Continue Reading
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