In Erhart v. BofI Holding, Inc., Case No. 15-cv-02287, (S.D. Cal. Feb. 14, 2017), a bank’s internal auditor reported alleged misconduct to federal agencies, engaged in self-help discovery by appropriating the bank’s confidential information, and allegedly widely disseminated such information. When the bank alleged that this conduct violated the parties’ confidentiality agreement and state and federal law, the employee countered that his appropriation and disclosures were protected by whistleblower statutes. As discussed below, the court held that: (i) the employee’s disclosures to the government were protected; (ii) his alleged disclosures to the media were not; and (iii) any additional protection of his appropriation and disclosure of confidential information may turn on whether his actions were reasonably necessary to pursue whistleblower claims.
Less than one month after issuing a $22 million award, the SEC issued another multi-million dollar whistleblower award on September 20, 2016. The SEC’s most recent award exceeded $4 million.
On August 30, 2016, the SEC issued a $22 million whistleblower bounty award to an individual “whose detailed tip and extensive assistance helped the agency halt a well-hidden fraud” at the whistleblower’s employer. The Acting Chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower, credited the “company insider,” stating “[w]ithout this whistleblower’s courage, information, and assistance, it would have been extremely difficult for law enforcement to discover this securities fraud on its own.”
In Cardenas v. M. Fanaian, D.D.S., Inc., Case No. F069305 (Cal. App. 5 Dist.), a California Court of Appeal determined that Plaintiff Cardenas could pursue a California Labor Code Section 1102.5 retaliation claim against her former employer, M. Fanaian, D.D.S., Inc. (“Company”) based on her allegation that it discharged her because she reported her coworker’s alleged theft of her property to law enforcement authorities—a complaint that did not implicate any wrongdoing by the Company itself.
In Diego v. Pilgrim United Church of Christ, — Cal.Rptr.3d —-, 2014 WL 6602601 (Cal. App. 4 Dist.) (available here), the California Court of Appeal determined that Cecilia Diego (Plaintiff) could pursue a common law public policy retaliation claim against her former employer, Pilgrim United Church of Christ (the Church), based on her allegations that the Church discharged her because it believed she complained of public safety issues to a government agency, even though she never actually complained.