Steven J. Pearlman

Steven J. Pearlman

Partner

Steven Pearlman is a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department and co-head of the firm's Whistleblowing & Retaliation Group. Steven’s practice focuses on defending complex employment litigation involving claims of discrimination, harassment and retaliation; wage-and-hour laws; breach of employment contract; and restrictive covenants (e.g., non-competition agreements). Steven is also at the forefront of defending whistleblower retaliation claims, and routinely conducts investigations arising from whistleblower reports. He has successfully testified in defense of his investigations in federal court. In addition, he has successfully tried cases to verdict in Illinois, Florida and California, and defended what is reported to be the largest Illinois-only class action in the history of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

Steven is recognized for his accomplishments and thought leadership in the field of labor and employment law. He was one of just two lawyers named to the Ethisphere "Attorneys Who Matter" list in the area of labor and employment, one of five U.S. lawyers selected by Law 360 as a "Rising Star Under 40" in the area of employment law and one of "40 Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch" selected by Law Bulletin Publishing Company from a field of 1,200 nominees. He has also been named as an Illinois Super Lawyer and recognized by The U.S. Legal 500. Also, Steve is a 2014 Burton Award Winner for "Distinguished Legal Writing."  Steven was also named to the Law 360 Employment Editorial Advisory Board (2014 and 2015).

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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

N.D. Indiana: Employer Bears Burden of Proving Whistleblower Exhausted Administrative Remedies

On February 1, 2016, the Northern District of Indiana ruled in a case brought under the Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA) that whether a whistleblower has fulfilled relevant administrative requirements prior to filing suit is a “condition precedent” rather than a “jurisdictional requirement.”  King v. Ind. Harbor Belt R.R., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43263 (N.D. … Continue Reading

Maryland District Court Dismisses SOX and Dodd Frank Whistleblower Claims

On March 1, 2017, the District of Maryland dismissed a Dodd Frank whistleblower retaliation claim because the plaintiff failed to allege that he had complained directly to the SEC about a violation of securities laws, and dismissed the plaintiff’s SOX whistleblower retaliation claim because the complaint did not allege that the employer was a publically … 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

Florida Private Sector Whistleblower Must Show Actual Violation of Law

The Middle District of Florida recently held that to establish a prima facie case under the Florida Private Whistleblower Act (FWA), § 448.102(3), Fla. Stat., a plaintiff must show an actual violation of a law, rule or regulation. Graddy v. Wal–Mart Stores E., LP, No. 5:16-CV-9-OC-28PRL (M.D. Fla. Feb. 14, 2017).… 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

Proskauer to Present on Modern Whistleblower Retaliation Law and the SEC Bounty Program at Bloomberg’s BNA Webinar

On Friday, March 3, 2017, Proskauer Partner Steve Pearlman will present on key aspects of modern whistleblower retaliation law, SEC enforcement actions involving “pre-taliation,” and the SEC Office of the Whistleblower bounty program. Pearlman is the co-head of the Whistleblowing & Retaliation Group.  He will join co-panelist Sean X. McKessy, Partner, Phillips & Cohen LLP, … Continue Reading

Proskauer to Present at Whistleblower Conference in NY

On Monday, February 27, 2017, Proskauer Partner Steve Pearlman, co-head of the Firm’s Whistleblowing & Retaliation Group, will present on key considerations for crafting effective employment-related agreements, including separation and settlement agreements, at a program developed by Compliance Week and Financial Research Associates. This in-depth conversation will allow senior compliance, finance, and audit executives the … Continue Reading

District of Massachusetts Clarifies Immunity Defense Burden Under Defend Trade Secrets Act

As noted in our May 2016 client alert, President Obama signed the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA), which establishes a federal cause of action for misappropriation of trade secrets into law.  As part of its protections, the DTSA provides an immunity defense for lawful disclosures (as defined by the law), including disclosures to an attorney for … 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

Proskauer Joins Heads of SEC & OSHA Whistleblower Programs in Webinar

On September 27, 2016, Proskauer Partner Steven J. Pearlman, co-head of the Whistleblowing & Retaliation Practice Group, participated in a Bloomberg webinar with Jane Norberg, Acting Chief of the SEC Office of the Whistleblower, MaryAnn Garrahan, Director of OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program, and plaintiff-side practitioner, Jason Zuckerman.  The participants discussed: the SEC Whistleblower Reward Program; … Continue Reading

Whistleblower’s Attorney’s Communications with Regulators Found to be Protected by Work Product Doctrine

A California Magistrate Judge in BofI Federal Bank v. Erhart ruled that a whistleblower’s attorney’s communications sent to federal regulators were protected by the attorney work product doctrine.  No. 15-cv-2353 (S.D. Cal. Aug. 5, 2016).  The court concluded that the whistleblower’s attorney had not waived work product protection through her disclosure to third-party regulators, finding that she … Continue Reading

SDNY Refuses to Dismiss Executive’s Dodd-Frank Retaliation Claim

On August 24, 2016, the Southern District of New York denied Defendants’ motion to dismiss a Dodd-Frank whistleblower retaliation claim brought by its former co-CEO and Executive Chairman of its Board of Directors, finding that the Plaintiff made a protected complaint alleging securities law violations to a person with supervisory authority.  Kuhns v. Ledger, No. … Continue Reading

E.D. Wisconsin: SOX Does Not Protect Whistleblower Complaints Based On Immaterial, Routine Events

On August 25, 2016, the Eastern District of Wisconsin granted the Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment on its former CEO’s SOX whistleblower claim.  The court ruled that Plaintiff’s complaint to the Board of Directors did not implicate any securities violations or fraud, and was not a protected disclosure where it was the Board itself Plaintiff … Continue Reading

OSHA Launches “Expedited Case Processing Pilot” For Whistleblower Claims

On August 1, 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) launched a new pilot program, titled “Expedited Case Processing Pilot,” in its Western region.  Here is the DOL’s press release describing the program.  The program enables a complainant filing claims under whistleblower statutes to ask OSHA to cease its investigation and issue findings in an … Continue Reading

SEC Penalizes Company For Severance Language Purportedly Impeding Complaints

On August 10, 2016, the SEC announced that BlueLinx Holdings Inc. (Company) is settling charges that it violated Rule 21F-17 by requiring outgoing employees to waive whistleblower bounty awards in connection with severance agreements and by using an overly restrictive confidentiality clause.  The Company agreed to pay a penalty of $265,000 and revise its agreements.  … Continue Reading

S.D.N.Y. Dismisses SOX and Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Claims For Lack Of Protected Activity

On June 22, 2016, Judge Daniels of the Southern District of New York dismissed SOX and Dodd-Frank whistleblower claims, ruling that Plaintiff’s alleged internal complaints did not constitute protected activity, as they did not implicate securities laws, mail fraud, or wire fraud.  Diaz v. Transatlantic Reinsurance Co., No. 16-cv-1355.… Continue Reading

SOX Whistleblower Receives $250,000 Award Related to State Wage Act Complaints

The ARB recently concluded that a former program manager was entitled to recover more than $250,000 in back pay and benefits under Section 806 of SOX based on his discipline and constructive discharge.  The ARB clarified that a complainant may have engaged in protected activity by complaining of a failure to comply with state wage … Continue Reading

CFTC Issues Record-High Whistleblower Bounty Award

On April 4, 2016, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) issued its third and largest award, of more than $10 million, as part of its Dodd-Frank whistleblower program.  As was the case with the CFTC’s two previous awards of $240,000 and $290,000—announced in May 2014 and September 2015, respectively—the Agency did not provide details … Continue Reading

E.D. Kentucky Dismisses SOX and Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Counter-Claims

On March 17, 2016, the Eastern District of Kentucky dismissed whistleblower counter-claims against Allstate Insurance Company (“Company”), ruling that Defendant Kevin Keefe’s (“Plaintiff”) SOX claim was untimely and that his Dodd-Frank claim failed to allege a causal connection between the alleged whistleblowing and any alleged adverse employment action.  Allstate Ins. Co. v. Zeefe, No. 15-159.… Continue Reading
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