Rachel S. Fischer is a senior counsel in the Labor & Employment Law Department.
Rachel represents employers in all types of employment-related disputes, including defending clients against claims of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wrongful discharge, whistleblowing, breach of contract, and in wage and hour matters. She represents employers in federal and state courts, arbitration tribunals, and before administrative agencies, and has litigated both single plaintiff and class action lawsuits. As an experienced trial lawyer, Rachel has successfully litigated numerous cases from complaint through jury verdict or arbitral award.
Rachel represents employers across a wide variety of industries, including banking and finance, law firms, media and entertainment, sports, and higher education.
Rachel also counsels clients on a broad range of employment law matters, including investigations, employee terminations and discipline, and employment policies and procedures.
Subscribe to all posts by Rachel Fischer
The Department of Labor’s Administrative Review Board (ARB) recently held that a former employee of Exelis Systems Corporation who was employed in Afghanistan could bring a SOX claim even though he worked exclusively outside of the United States. Blanchard v. Exelis Systems Corp./Vectrus Systems Corp., ARB Case No. 15-031 (August 29, 2017). In so ruling, … Continue Reading
On September 29, 2015, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced that it will make its second award as part of its whistleblower program, which was created by Dodd-Frank. The tipster will receive a bounty of approximately $290,000. Notably absent from the CFTC’s press release regarding the award were any details about the whistleblower … Continue Reading
In Wallace v. Tesoro Corp., the Fifth Circuit revived a SOX whistleblower complaint that was dismissed by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, finding that the plaintiff’s alleged belief that the company violated SEC rules was not objectively unreasonable (as plead in the complaint). (Case No. 13-cv-51010, July 31, 2015). The … Continue Reading
On June 17, 2015, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee introduced the Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act of 2015 (Act), a bill that proposes whistleblower protection for employees who provide information to the Department of Justice related to criminal violations of antitrust laws.… Continue Reading
On May 25, 2015, the Wall Street Journal published an article (subscription required) reporting that tipsters have found it difficult to collect financial awards from the SEC after filing whistleblower claims.… Continue Reading
A Wall Street Journal article (subscription required) dated May 4, 2015 reports that a backlog of tips received by the SEC Office of the Whistleblower as part of its bounty program has resulted in a delay in paying awards to tipsters. According to the article, of the 297 tipsters who have applied for awards since … Continue Reading
The ARB recently addressed the standard for proving that protected activity was a “contributing factor” in adverse employment actions. It concluded that evidence showing that an employer would have made the same adverse action decision in the absence of protected activity does not bear on whether the protected activity “contributed” to the adverse action. Powers … Continue Reading
We have seen a number of substantial whistleblower awards make headlines this year, but a recent article on nytimes.com discusses the potential downsides of government-sponsored bounty programs: rewarding whistleblowers by paying them millions of dollars for information may lead to perverse incentives by allowing wrongdoers to win significant sums of money with little government accountability … Continue Reading
On November 12, 2014, in Halliburton, Inc. v. Admin. Review Bd., 5th Cir. No. 13-cv-60323, the Fifth Circuit affirmed an ARB’s decision that disclosing the identity of a whistleblower may constitute an “adverse action” under Section 806 of SOX. This decision presents a number of risks for employers—even when they are acting conscientiously and in good … Continue Reading
According to an academic study published on October 6, 2014 by Andrew C. Hall, Gerald S. Martin, Nathan Y. Sharp, and Jaron H. Wilde, the presence of whistleblowers may have a meaningful impact on the outcomes of enforcement actions brought by the SEC and DOJ. The study involved an analysis of the effect of whistleblowers … Continue Reading
The ARB recently clarified the competing burdens of proof on issues of causation for whistleblower retaliation cases arising under SOX Section 806 and other whistleblower protection statutes. In particular, in Fordham v. Fannie Mae, ARB No. 12-061 (Oct. 9, 2014), a 2-1 decision, the ARB reversed an ALJ’s decision that had considered the Respondent’s affirmative … Continue Reading
Overseas plaintiffs are continuing to seek to pursue SOX and Dodd-Frank whistleblower claims. On September 30, 2014, the Southern District of New York in Ulrich v. Moody’s Corp., 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 138082 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 30, 2014), dismissed SOX and Dodd-Frank whistleblower claims on the grounds that the statutes’ respective anti-retaliation provisions do not apply … Continue Reading
As discussed in a Law360 article by Ed Beeson, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals will decide in Stryker v. SEC, No. 13-cv-4404, whether the SEC needs to pay Dodd-Frank whistleblower bounties to tipsters who provided information to the SEC prior to July 21, 2010, the date the law was enacted.… Continue Reading
On July 18, 2014, a coalition of plaintiff-side lawyers and government watchdog groups proposed ways to strengthen the SEC whistleblower program in two petitions filed with the SEC. The groups urged the SEC to update Rule 21F-17, which prohibits any action that would “impede” an individual from communicating with the SEC about securities law violations, … Continue Reading
In United States of America ex rel Rene Shupe v. Cisco Systems, Inc. and Avnet, Inc., No. 13-40807 (5th Cir. July 7, 2014), the Fifth Circuit reversed a district court’s order denying a motion to dismiss a qui tam whistleblower suit, holding that the False Claims Act does not apply to submissions by telecommunications companies … Continue Reading
As reported by The Washington Post, on April 4, 2014, the IRS issued its “Fiscal Year 2013 Report to the Congress on the Use of Section 7623” revealing that it paid whistleblowers $53 million in 2013. The agency said that it paid out 122 awards last year, making the average payout a whopping $435,000.… Continue Reading
On March 5, 2014, a California jury awarded $6 million to a former accounting executive at Playboy Enterprises Inc. (the “Company”), finding that the Company discharged the former employee in violation of Section 806 of SOX. The case is Zulfer v. Playboy Enterprises Inc. et al., No. 2:12-cv-08263 (C.D. Cal.). The award is reported to … Continue Reading
In denying a bank’s bid for summary judgment on an Internal Audit and SOX Administrator’s SOX whistleblower claim, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington highlighted the present conflict on the standard governing protected activity under Section 806 of SOX—i.e., the “definitively and specifically” standard or the more liberal “reasonable belief” standard. … Continue Reading
The New York County Lawyers Association Committee on Professional Ethics released Formal Opinion 746 on October 7, in which the Committee considered whether New York lawyers can ethically collect bounties for submitting confidential information about their clients under the whistleblower provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act. According to the Formal Opinion, New York lawyers may not … Continue Reading
In what might be an unsettling trend for employers, juries in Philadelphia and Anchorage have recently issued multi-million dollar jury awards in favor of whistleblowers. Specifically, on March 22, 2013, a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court jury awarded Plaintiff-whistleblower Marla Pietrowski $1.7 million for her claims under the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act, and Ms. … Continue Reading
On March 13, 2013, the New York City Council overrode Mayor Bloomberg’s veto of a new Local Law that amends the New York City Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”) to prohibit discrimination against job applicants based on their unemployment status. The new Local Law provides expansive whistleblower/retaliation protections to employees and is set to take effect … Continue Reading
OSHA recently announced that it ordered Norfolk Southern Railway (Company) to pay three former workers a combined $1,121,099 for violating the whistleblower provisions of the Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA), which protects employees who report violations of any federal law, rule or regulation relating to railroad safety or security.… Continue Reading
In a brief but notable decision, the Ninth Circuit affirmed summary judgment in an employer’s favor on causation grounds in a SOX whistleblower retaliation case. Kim v. The Boeing Co., 487 Fed. Appx. 356 (9th Cir. 2012). … Continue Reading
Employers who believe they have been subjected to frivolous whistleblower suits are starting to say “enough is enough,” and searching for ways to vindicate their rights and send a strong message. This case is illustrative and caught our eye. Kentucky employer Armstrong Coal (the Company) recently filed suit in Kentucky state court against former employee … Continue Reading