On February 6, the SEC filed its third amicus brief defending its interpretive rule on Dodd-Frank’s anti-retaliation provision, 15 U.S.C. §78u-6(h)(1).  The impetus is a ruling out of the Southern District of New York in Berman v. Neo@Ogilvy, No. 14-cv-523, which follows the Fifth Circuit Asadi decision concluding that the Dodd-Frank anti-retaliation provision does not cover internal complaints.  The district court in Berman dismissed the plaintiff’s lawsuit because he made only an internal report, and an appeal to the Second Circuit ensued.

On December 8, 2014, the Third Circuit ruled that Dodd-Frank’s anti-arbitration provisions do not invalidate pre-dispute arbitration agreements with respect to whistleblower retaliation claims brought pursuant to the anti-retaliation provision in Dodd-Frank, 15 U.S.C. §78u-6(h)(1)(A).  Khazin v. TD Ameritrade Holding Corp., No. 14-689, –F.3d–, 2014 WL 6871393 (3d Cir. 2014).

On October 24, 2014, in Khazin v. TD Ameritrade Holding Corp, et al., the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit heard oral argument on an issue of first impression (within that forum):  whether Dodd-Frank applies retroactively to invalidate pre-dispute arbitration agreements.  Dodd Frank expressly invalidates pre-dispute arbitration agreements of whistleblower claims brought under Section 1057,  SOX and the Commodities Exchange Act.  Notably, however, Dodd-Frank does not invalidate pre-dispute arbitration agreements of whistleblower claims under Securities Exchange Act (“SEA”), 15 U.S.C. §78u-6(h)(1)(A).  Nor does Dodd-Frank explicitly address the retroactivity of its anti-arbitration provisions.      

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York recently denied a motion to dismiss a plaintiff’s SOX and Dodd-Frank whistleblower claims, ruling that (i) the plaintiff engaged in SOX protected activity even though her purported protected activity was part and parcel of her job duties as Chief Risk Officer, and (ii) she qualified as a Dodd-Frank whistleblower even though she did not lodge a complaint with the SEC.  Yang v. Navigators Group, Inc., Case No. No. 13-cv-2073, 2014 LEXIS 63876 (S.D.N.Y. May 8, 2014).

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, Risk and Compliance Journal, on April 29, Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn) sent a letter to OSHA questioning the effectiveness of OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program (“WPP”).  Considering this in context, it should be noted that in 2009 and 2010, two governmental “watchdogs” released reports critical of the WPP’s effectiveness.  Since that time, it has been reported that OSHA, which administers the program, has been overhauling the WPP.  Senators Grassley and Alexander, however, have concerns.

The U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey recently held that the Dodd-Frank Act does not operate retroactively to bar pre-dispute arbitration agreements, and thus required a plaintiff to arbitrate his Dodd-Frank whistleblower retaliation claim.  Boris Khazin v. TD Ameritrade Holding, No. 13-cv-4149 (D.N.J. March 11, 2014).