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Steven J. Pearlman

Partner

Steven J. 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 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. He has also testified in defense of his investigations in federal court.

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Ninth Circuit Takes Broad View of Protected Activity under the California Whistleblower Protection Act

On October 20, 2022, the Ninth Circuit reversed in part a grant of summary judgment in favor of an employer, finding that the district court misapplied the substantive law of California in holding that Plaintiff’s disclosures to his supervisor and to a third-party contractor did not constitute protected activity under the California Whistleblower Protection Act. … Continue Reading

OSHA Orders Company to Reinstate Whistleblowers and Orders Payment of Over $800k for Purported SOX Violations

On October 7, 2022, OSHA announced that it had ordered ExxonMobil Corp. to immediately rehire two computational scientists who alleged that they were fired in retaliation for leaking to the media their concerns about improper conduct by the company.  In addition to reinstatement, the former employees were also awarded over $800,000 in back-pay, interest and … Continue Reading

Tenth Circuit Affirms $1 Million Jury Award to Whistleblower

On July 20, 2022, the Tenth Circuit affirmed a $1 million jury award to a former employee who claimed he was demoted in retaliation for reporting that his supervisor instructed him to falsify test results on a program used by the U.S. military.  Casias v. Raytheon Co., Nos. 21-1195 and 21-1205 (10th Cir. 2022). Background … Continue Reading

SEC Adopts Amendments to Whistleblower Program Rules

On August 26, 2022, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced that it had adopted two amendments to its whistleblower program rules proposed earlier this year (see our post here). The first amendment allows whistleblowers who would have been eligible for an award under another whistleblower program that would not give them as high an … Continue Reading

First Circuit: FCPA is not a “Rule or Regulation of the SEC” Under SOX Whistleblower Provision

On July 13, 2022, the First Circuit reversed a denial of summary judgment, finding plaintiff could not satisfy his burden of showing he engaged in protected activity under the SOX whistleblower protection provision.  Baker v. Smith & Wesson, No. 21-2019 (1st Cir. 2022).  The decision affirms that protected activity under SOX is limited to reporting … Continue Reading

SEC Proposes Amendments to Whistleblower Program Rules, Which May Lead to More SEC Tips

On February 10, 2022, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced two proposed amendments to its whistleblower program rules. As we previously reported here, a closely divided SEC adopted a final rule implementing several changes to its whistleblower program in September 2020.  On January 13, 2021, a whistleblower attorney filed a lawsuit in the U.S. … Continue Reading

CA Supreme Court: Contributing-Factor Standard Applies to Whistleblower Retaliation Claims

On January 27, 2022, the California Supreme Court settled an inconsistency that has divided the courts of appeal with respect to the proper evidentiary standard for whistleblower retaliation claims under California Labor Code section 1102.6.  It ruled that the “contributing-factor” standard applies.  Lawson v. PPG Architectural Finishes, Inc., No. S266001, __ P.3d __, 2022 WL … Continue Reading

SDNY: Confidentiality Agreement Impeded Investors from Whistleblowing

On November 17, 2021, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York held that a company and its CEO violated Rule 21F-17 of the Exchange Act by entering into confidentiality agreements with investors that prohibited communications with the SEC, and subsequently attempting to enforce those agreements.  SEC v. Collectors Coffee Inc., No. … Continue Reading

EEOC Updates COVID-19 Guidance with Anti-Retaliation Section

On November 17, 2021, the EEOC updated its technical guidance on COVID-19 and anti-discrimination with a new anti-retaliation section. The new section largely restates existing statutory anti-retaliation protections in the context of COVID-19.  The guidance provides several examples of COVID-related protected activity, which include filing a charge with the EEOC alleging that an employer has … Continue Reading

SEC Awards $400,000 to Whistleblower Culpable In Fraudulent Scheme

On November 23, 2021, the SEC issued an award of $400,000 to a whistleblower who voluntarily provided the SEC with original information that assisted the agency in bringing a successful enforcement action that resulted in the termination of an ongoing Ponzi-like scheme. This award is notable in that the claimant received an award even though … Continue Reading

SEC Releases FY 2021 Whistleblower Program Annual Report

On November 15, 2021, the SEC published its annual report to Congress covering the period from October 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021.  The report was prepared by the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower to summarize its whistleblower bounty program, report on the program’s recent dramatic growth, and highlight key amendments to the SEC’s whistleblower … Continue Reading

CA District Court: Dodd Frank Whistleblower Provision Does Not Apply Extraterritorially

On June 28, 2021, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California granted the Company’s Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss after an executive claimed he was discharged in violation of the Dodd-Frank Act’s (DFA) whistleblower protection provision for alerting the Company and authorities about possible tax fraud.  Airton Amorim De Almeida v. … Continue Reading

SEC Awards $40 Million to Two Whistleblowers

On October 15, 2021, the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower announced multi-million dollar awards to two whistleblowers who provided the SEC with information that assisted the agency in bringing a successful enforcement action.  (The order granting the awards can be accessed here.)  The larger of the two awards, $32 million, was awarded to the whistleblower … Continue Reading

SEC Announces $36 Million Award to Whistleblower

On September 24, 2021, the SEC announced an approximately $36 million award to a whistleblower who provided critical information to the SEC that contributed to a successful enforcement action.  (The order granting the award can be accessed here.) Emily Pasquinelli, Acting Chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower noted that “[w]histleblowers can act as … Continue Reading

SEC Alleges Employer’s Compliance Manual Violates Rule 21F-17

On June 23, 2021, the SEC announced that Guggenheim Securities, LLC (“Company”) agreed to settle charges that it violated Rule 21F-17 by including language in its compliance manual and training materials that allegedly prohibited employees from contacting regulators without prior Company approval.  Without admitting or denying the findings in the SEC’s order, the Company consented … Continue Reading

CA Federal Court Dismisses Whistleblower Claims After Bench Trial

On July 26, 2021, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California held, after a bench trial, that Plaintiff Botta failed to prove that Defendant PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (“PwC”) terminated his employment in retaliation for his filing of a complaint with the SEC, and dismissed his whistleblower claims brought under SOX and California … Continue Reading

SDNY: SOX Whistleblower Protections Extend to Investors

On July 21, 2021, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York held that the whistleblower protections established in SOX are not restricted to employee whistleblowers, but also extend to shareholders.  SEC v. Collector’s Coffee Inc., No. 19-cv-4355. Background As we previously reported, in 2019 the SEC sued online auction portal Collectors … Continue Reading

M.D. Pennsylvania Grants Summary Judgment on SOX Retaliation Claim

On April 12, 2021, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania granted a defendant-employer’s motion for summary judgment on a SOX whistleblower retaliation claim, holding that the company demonstrated that it would have terminated Plaintiff’s employment even in the absence of any alleged protected activity as part of a broad reduction-in-force (RIF).  … Continue Reading

SEC Awards $22 Million to Two Whistleblowers

On May 10, 2021, the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower announced multi-million dollar awards to two whistleblowers who provided the SEC with information that assisted the agency in bringing a successful enforcement action against a financial services firm.  (The order granting the awards can be accessed here.)  The larger of the two awards, $18 million, was … Continue Reading

Pennsylvania District Court Grants Employer Summary Judgment on SOX Claim

On March 29, 2021, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania granted a defendant-employer’s motion for summary judgment on a SOX whistleblower retaliation claim, holding that the plaintiff lacked an objectively or subjectively reasonable belief that the company violated any law enumerated in Section 806 of SOX.  Ngai v. Urban Outfitters, Inc., … Continue Reading

6th Circuit: FCA Whistleblower Protections Extend to Post-Employment Retaliation

On March 31, 2021, the Sixth Circuit addressed an issue of first impression in the circuit, holding that the False Claims Act’s (“FCA”) whistleblower protection provisions protect former employees from post-employment retaliation.  United States, ex rel. Felten v. William Beaumont Hospital, No. 20-1002. Background Plaintiff was employed as a doctor at a Michigan hospital.  He … Continue Reading

7th Circuit Affirms Denial of Equitable Tolling of Statute of Limitations Under SOX

On March 22, 2021, the Seventh Circuit affirmed a decision by the ARB dismissing a whistleblower retaliation complaint under SOX for failure to file within the 180-day statutory deadline.  Xanthopoulos v. U.S. Department of Labor, No. 20-2604.  The court rejected the plaintiff’s equitable tolling arguments. Background Plaintiff was an employee of an investment company, and … Continue Reading
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