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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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

Fifth Circuit Affirms Summary Judgment on SOX Whistleblower Claim

On February 15, 2019, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the grant of summary judgment in favor of Andeavor Corporation f/k/a Tesoro Corporation on a SOX whistleblower claim, concluding that the plaintiff lacked an objectively reasonable belief that the company was misreporting its revenue to the SEC.  Wallace v. Andeavor Corp., No. 17-cv-50927. Background Plaintiff, a Vice … Continue Reading

First Cir. Sets Pleading Standard For FCA Whistleblower Retaliation Claims

On January 15, 2019, the First Circuit ruled that a plaintiff adequately alleges protected activity under the FCA whistleblower protection provision where he asserts that he reported concerns about his employer’s conduct that could reasonably lead to a viable FCA action.  Guilfoile v. Shields, Sr., No. 17-1610. Background Plaintiff, a former executive of pharmacy chain … Continue Reading

California Federal Court Stays SOX Claim Pending Arbitration of Related Claims

On December 21, 2018, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California stayed a plaintiff’s whistleblower retaliation claim under SOX (which was not subject to mandatory arbitration) while granting a motion compelling arbitration of the plaintiff’s remaining employment discrimination and retaliation claims. Anderson v. Salesforce.com, Inc., No. 18-cv-06712-PJH. Background Plaintiff alleged that he … Continue Reading

N.D. Illinois Refuses To Expand Reach of Commodity Exchange Act Whistleblower Provisions

On October 22, 2018, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois granted a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss a first-impression whistleblower retaliation claim under the Commodity Exchange Act (“CEA”).  Johnson v. Oystacher, No. 15-cv-02263. Background Plaintiff and Defendant went into business together in January 2011, with Plaintiff acting as Chief Risk Officer … Continue Reading

Federal Court Allows SOX Whistleblower Claim To Proceed But Dismisses Dodd-Frank Claim

On October 2, 2018, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania federal court denied a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss a SOX whistleblower retaliation claim, reasoning that Plaintiff sufficiently alleged that he engaged in protected activity and that his protected activity was a contributing factor in his termination.  But it dismissed the … Continue Reading

Alabama Federal Court Partially Grants Motion to Dismiss SOX Claim On Exhaustion Grounds

On May 29, 2018, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama granted a motion to dismiss in part Plaintiff’s whistleblower retaliation claims under SOX on the grounds that the Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies against the Defendant CEO.  Wingo v. S. Co., 17-cv-01328. Background.  Plaintiff, a Project Manager, informed his … Continue Reading

ARB Rejects SOX Claim Due to Complainant’s Harassment

The ARB recently affirmed a motion for summary decision against a Complainant claiming retaliatory discharge under SOX, finding that he failed to demonstrate that he engaged in protected activity and that the Company would have discharged him in the absence of any protected activity given his misconduct. Latigo v. ENI Trading & Shipping, 2018 DOL … Continue Reading

Chicago Federal Court Rejects Retaliatory Discharge Claim Due To Existence Of SOX Whistleblower Claim

On April 23, 2018, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois ruled that a plaintiff’s SOX claim precluded his claim for common law retaliatory discharge.  Cohen v. Power Solutions International, Inc., No. 17-cv-4385. Plaintiff, a COO, claimed that in early 2016, he became suspicious of the Company’s financial dealings and believed the Company … Continue Reading

Tenth Circuit Reverses Grant of Summary Judgment on SOX Whistleblower Claim

On February 22, 2018, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a district court’s grant of summary judgment against Plaintiff who claimed that his employment was terminated in violation of the SOX whistleblower protection provision.  The court concluded that genuine issues of material fact existed as to whether Plaintiff actually believed that the complained-of conduct … Continue Reading

Mississippi Federal Court Denies Summary Judgment on SOX Whistleblower Claim

On February 12, 2018, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi recently denied a motion for summary judgment in a SOX whistleblower claim where the defendant company alleged that it terminated the plaintiff pursuant to a reduction-in-force (RIF). Hendrick v. ITT Engineered Valves, LLC, No. 16-cv-204. Background. Plaintiff began working as … Continue Reading
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