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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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

OSHA Releases Final Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Regulations

OSHA recently released its final rule implementing the whistleblower provisions of the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 (“CFPA”).  The following are the key features of the rule:       Deadline for Filing a Complaint:  A complaint must be filed within 180 days of the alleged retaliation.  OSHA’s rule notes that such a complaint … Continue Reading

ARB Rejects SOX Claim of Employee Who Threatened Co-Worker

On February 18, 2016, the ARB dismissed a former employee’s whistleblower retaliation claim under Section 806 of SOX, concluding that he failed to show that his protected activity contributed to the decision to terminate his employment, noting.  The ARB noted that Complainant threatened a co-worker and failed to attend a required counseling program before his … Continue Reading

SEC Awards Nearly $2M in Whistleblower Bounties

On March 8, 2016, the SEC announced payment of nearly $2,000,000 in whistleblower bounty awards to three tipsters.  (The order granting the award can be accessed here.)  The largest of the three awards, approximately $1,800,000, went to a whistleblower who provided original information that prompted the SEC to open an investigation.  The other two whistleblowers … Continue Reading

Illinois Appellate Court Affirms Whistleblower’s Multi-Million Dollar Award

On March 2, 2016, an Illinois Appellate court upheld a jury verdict awarding over $3 million to Plaintiff James Crowley (Plaintiff) on his whistleblower retaliation claim under the Illinois State Official and Employee Ethics Act (Ethics Act) (5 ILCS § 430/15-5, et seq.).  Crowley v. Watson, No. 1-14-2847 (Mar. 2, 2016). We previously reported on … Continue Reading

The Whistleblower Augmented Reward and Non-Retaliation Act of 2016

Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) recently introduced the Whistleblower Augmented Reward and Non-Retaliation Act of 2016 (“WARN Act”), which aims to bolster whistleblower protections under both SOX and Dodd-Frank, increase bounty awards available under certain federal whistleblower statutes, and create whistleblower protections for a new category of employees.… Continue Reading

Two Illinois Federal Courts Rule That Illinois Whistleblower Act May Provide For Individual Liability

Two courts in the Northern District of Illinois recently ruled that the Illinois Whistleblower Act (IWA) (740 ILCS § 174/5) provides for individual liability.  Bello v. Village of Skokie, No. 14-cv-1718 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 2, 2014 and Dec. 31, 2015); Hower v. Cook County Sheriff’s Office, No. 15-cv-6404 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 16, 2016).… Continue Reading

“Reasonable Cause” Standard Highlighted In OSHA’s Revised Whistleblower Investigations Manual

On January 28, 2016, OSHA issued a revised Whistleblower Investigations Manual (“Manual”) outlining procedures for the handling of retaliation complaints under the various whistleblower statutes that OSHA oversees.  Chapter 3 of the Manual, titled “Conduct of the Investigation,” states that the burden of proof to be applied by investigators is “whether there is a reasonable … Continue Reading

3rd Circuit Affirms Dismissal in Long-Running Weist SOX Whistleblower Case

On February 2, 2016, the Third Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the SOX whistleblower retaliation claim in the closely watched case of Weist v. Tyco Electronics Corp., No. 15-2034.  We have posted on key events during the life of this case for several years, here (covering the district court’s grant of summary judgment), here (analyzing the Third Circuit’s opinion regarding … Continue Reading

Connecticut Court Clarifies SOX Whistleblower Pleading Standard

On December 15, 2015, the District of Connecticut refused to dismiss a SOX whistleblower retaliation claim, ruling that:  (1) the heightened Rule 9(b) pleading standard for fraud claims does not apply to SOX whistleblower retaliation claims; and (2) to plead a “reasonable belief,” a SOX whistleblower plaintiff needs to show that her claim at least approximately … Continue Reading

ARB Broadly Interprets Adverse Action Once Again

On November 24, 2015, the ARB adopted an expansive interpretation of what constitutes an adverse action for claims asserted under the Federal Railroad Safety Act of 1982 (FRSA), holding that a reduced performance rating with no compensation-related consequences and a failure to pay medical bills in connection with a work-related accident are actionable. Fricka v. National … Continue Reading

ARB Rejects CFPA Whistleblower Claim On Protected Activity Grounds

On November 6, 2015, the DOL’s Administrative Review Board affirmed the dismissal of Consumer Financial Protection Act (“CFPA”) whistleblower claims of a terminated mortgage broker, concluding that the complainant did not engage in protected activity. Childs v Sente Mortgage, ARB Case No. 14-043. This is one of a growing number of claims being filed under … Continue Reading
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