Steven J. Pearlman

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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Ga. District Court Dismisses Dodd-Frank and SOX Whistleblower Claims

On September 30, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia granted an employer’s motion to dismiss a Dodd-Frank whistleblower claim on the ground that the alleged whistleblower did not complain to the SEC prior to his termination.  The court also granted Plaintiff’s SOX whistleblower claim as against three affiliates of Plaintiff’s … Continue Reading

SEC Amends Whistleblower Program Rules

On September 23, 2020, by a vote of 3 to 2, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced the adoption of a final rule implementing several changes to its whistleblower program, citing the need to “provide greater clarity to whistleblowers and increase the program’s efficiency and transparency.”  The following addresses the key provisions of the … Continue Reading

Third Circuit Confirms Limits on Scope of Protected Activity Under SOX

On July 16, 2020, the Third Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a former IT analyst’s whistleblower retaliation claim, holding that he lacked an objectively reasonable belief that his complaints implicated one of the enumerated forms of fraud in the SOX whistleblower provision.  Reilly v. GlaxoSmithKline, LLC, No. 19-cv-2897. Background Plaintiff was an IT analyst for … Continue Reading

COVID-19 Whistleblower Protection Bill Introduced Into Congress

On June 15, 2020, Senator Kamala Harris and Representatives Jackie Speier and Jamie Raskin introduced the COVID-19 Whistleblower Protection Act (the “Act”), which seeks to provide protections for employees who blow the whistle on employers who misuse federal funds received through various measures enacted by Congress aimed at mitigating the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. … Continue Reading

Pennsylvania Magistrate Judge Recommends Dismissal of SOX Whistleblower Claim for Lack of Protected Activity

On May 5, 2020, a Magistrate Judge in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania issued a report and recommendation recommending that a defendant-employer’s motion for summary judgment dismissing a SOX whistleblower retaliation claim be granted, finding that the plaintiff had not engaged in protected activity.  Wutherich v. Rice Energy Inc, No. … Continue Reading

Whistleblower Claims on the Horizon Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

In recent weeks, there have been numerous widely reported incidents of employees, particularly those in the health care industry, claiming that they have been retaliated against for reporting health and safety concerns related to COVID-19.  Such complaints are indicative of the kinds of whistleblower and retaliation claims employers are likely to see in the near … Continue Reading

SDNY: Directors Not Liable For Whistleblower Claims Under SOX

On December 9, 2019, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that, as a matter of law, directors cannot be held liable under the anti-retaliation provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.  Zornoza v. Terraform Global Inc., No. 18-cv-11617. Background Plaintiff is the former President and CEO of the defendant companies which … Continue Reading

ARB: “Hinting” at Filing a Whistleblower Complaint is Not Protected Activity

On October 31, 2019, the ARB held that an employee who merely “hints” that he or she intends to file a whistleblower complaint has not engaged in protected activity sufficient to invoke the whistleblower protection provision in SOX.  Hoptman v. Health Net of California, ARB Case No. 2017-0052, (Oct. 31, 2019). Background Complainant was a … Continue Reading

SEC Releases FY 2019 Whistleblower Program Annual Report

On November 15, 2019, the SEC published its annual report to Congress covering the agency’s whistleblower program. The report, which covers the period of October 1, 2018 through September 30, 2019, was prepared by the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower (“OWB”) to summarize its whistleblower bounty program, report on recent statistical trends, and revisit key … Continue Reading

SEC Files Suit Against Company For Allegedly Impeding Investors From Blowing the Whistle

On November 4, 2019, the SEC announced that it had filed an amended complaint against online auction portal Collectors Café and CEO Mykalai Kontilai, alleging Kontilai tried to prevent investors from communicating with the SEC in violation of Rule 21F-17.  The SEC previously charged Collectors Café and Kontilai with fraudulently raising $23 million by making … Continue Reading

SDNY Grants Motion to Dismiss SOX Retaliation Claim

On September 18, 2019, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York granted a defendant-employer’s motion to dismiss a SOX whistleblower retaliation claim, finding that the plaintiff failed to adequately plead protected activity.  Tonra v. Kadmon Holdings, Inc., No. 18-cv-9028. Background The defendant-employer is a publicly traded biopharmaceutical company that develops and … Continue Reading

Ill. Federal Court Grants Summary Judgment on Whistleblower Retaliation Claims

On September 27, 2019, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois granted a defendant-employer summary judgment on a whistleblower retaliation claim under the Illinois Whistleblower Act (“IWA”) and on a common law retaliatory discharge claim, holding that Plaintiff failed to establish that he suffered an adverse employment action under the IWA and … Continue Reading

District of Rhode Island Dismisses In-House Attorney’s SOX Whistleblower Claim for Lack of Protected Activity

On July 19, 2019, the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island granted an employer’s motion to dismiss a SOX whistleblower claim, holding that the Plaintiff—an in-house attorney—failed to allege sufficient facts to show he had an objectively reasonable belief that fraud had occurred.  Colesanti v. Dickinson, No. 18-491. Background Plaintiff was an … Continue Reading

ARB Affirms Dismissal of SOX Whistleblower Claim Against Non-Public Companies

The ARB recently affirmed the dismissal of a whistleblower retaliation claim under Section 806 of SOX, holding an employer is not a “contractor” covered by SOX simply because it was a party to a contract with a publicly traded company.  Griffo v. Book Dog Books, LLC, Robert William Holdings, LLC & Robert William Mgmt., LLC, … Continue Reading

4th Circuit Vacates ARB SOX Whistleblower Decision for Lack of Protected Activity

On June 13, 2019, the Fourth Circuit overturned the ARB’s decision in favor of a complainant, ruling that the plaintiff had not engaged in protected activity under the SOX whistleblower protection provision by complaining of a company’s use of a mandatory arbitration policy that allegedly was overly broad.  Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. v. U.S. Dep’t … Continue Reading

SDNY Dismisses SOX and Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Claims Against Private Company

On June 3, 2019, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York granted a defendant-employer’s motion for summary judgment on SOX and Dodd-Frank whistleblower retaliation claims, finding that the alleged whistleblowing did not involve fraud related to a public company.  Tellez v. OTG Interactive, LLC, No. 15-cv-8984. Background Defendants operate restaurants and … Continue Reading

SEC Awards Joint Whistleblowers $3 Million Even Though Information Was Not Voluntarily Given

On June 3, 2019, the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower announced a $3 million award to two whistleblowers who provided the SEC with information that led it to investigate and successfully bring an enforcement action for securities fraud that affected retail investors.  Because the whistleblowers submitted their tip to the SEC jointly, they will share … Continue Reading

Ill. Supreme Court Affirms Dismissal of Ill. Whistleblower Act and Retaliatory Discharge Claims

On May 23, 2019, the Illinois Supreme Court issued a ruling in Roberts v. Board of Trustees of Community College District No. 508, reaffirming the pleading standards for both common law retaliatory discharge and “refusal-to-participate” claims the Illinois Whistleblower Act (“IWA”) (740 ILCS § 174/1). Background.  In 2015, Plaintiff was employed as Director of Medical … Continue Reading

House Financial Services Committee Passes Bill to Expand Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Protection to Internal Whistleblowers

On May 8, 2019, the House Committee on Financial Services passed H.R. 2515, the Whistleblower Protection Reform Act of 2019, which would amend Section 922 of Dodd-Frank to extend the statute’s anti-retaliation protections to employees who report alleged misconduct internally. Digital Realty Trust v. Somers H.R. 2515 was proposed in direct response to the U.S. … Continue Reading

Hospital Sues Whistleblower for Failing to Report Information And Choosing Instead to Use As Basis for Claim

In an unusual and eye-catching case, a hospital facing a whistleblower lawsuit from a former senior executive under the False Claims Act (“FCA”) has brought suit against that individual, alleging he breached his fiduciary duty by failing to report the unlawful conduct internally and instead using that information as the basis for a whistleblower claim.  … Continue Reading

Alabama Federal Court Denies Motion for Summary Judgement on SOX Whistleblower Claim

On April 2, 2019, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama denied a defendant-employer’s motion for summary judgment on a SOX whistleblower retaliation claim, finding genuine issues of material fact existed as to the basis for Plaintiff’s discharge, whether his complaint qualified as protected activity, and whether he had a reasonable belief … Continue Reading

LA Jury Awards Whistleblower $1.5 Million

On February 28, 2019, a Los Angeles jury issued a verdict of $1.5 million in damages to a former employee who alleged his employer retaliated against him for reporting misconduct in violation of the False Claims Act (“FCA”), 31 U.S.C. § 3730(h), the Defense Contractor Whistleblower Protection Act (“DCWPA”), 10 U.S.C. § 2409, and California’s … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Affirms Most of Jury Verdict in Former GC’s SOX Whistleblower Lawsuit

On February 26, 2019, the Ninth Circuit affirmed much of a jury’s approximately $11M verdict finding that a former general counsel was discharged in retaliation for reporting alleged Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) violations.  Wadler v. Bio-Rad Labs., Inc., No. 17-cv-16193. Background Sanford Wadler, then the former General Counsel of Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. (the “Company”) … Continue Reading
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