As we previously discussed, courts have struggled with determining the scope of the protections in Dodd-Frank’s anti-retaliation provisions. On the one hand, Dodd-Frank defines a “whistleblower” as any individual, or group of individuals, “who provide . . . information relating to a violation of the securities laws to the [SEC], in a manner established by . . . the [SEC].” But, a few subdivisions later, Dodd-Frank prohibits retaliation against a whistleblower “because of any lawful act done by the whistleblower . . . in making disclosures that are required or protected under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 . . . , [the Securities Exchange Act of 1934], section 1513 (e) of title 18, and any other law, rule, or regulation subject to the jurisdiction of the Commission.” Recently, in connection with Liu v. Siemens A.G., which is pending before the Second Circuit, the SEC filed an amicus brief, arguing that Dodd-Frank’s whistleblower provision “protects any employee who engages in any of the whistleblowing activities specified in [15 U.S.C. § 78u-6(h)(1)(A)], irrespective of whether the employee separately reports the information to the [SEC].” If the SEC so persuades the Second Circuit, we could see a split with the Fifth Circuit’s recent first impression ruling that Dodd-Frank’s anti-retaliation provision only protects whistleblowers who report to the SEC.
On January 30, 2014, the California Court of Appeal for the Fifth Appellate District ruled that California State courts have concurrent jurisdiction over retaliation claims under the federal False Claims Act (FCA) in Driscoll v. Superior Court (Spencer). The following addresses the basis for that ruling and its implications.
On October 12, 2013, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law SB 496, which, along with two other new laws (SB 666 and AB 263), expands protections for whistleblowers in California by significantly altering California Labor Code Section 1102.5, California’s general whistleblower statute. The amendments are effective January 1, 2014.