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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Third Circuit Revives In-House Attorney’s Whistleblower Claim

On July 25, 2017, the Third Circuit allowed a plaintiff who was an in-house attorney to proceed with a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit under the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA) based on its conclusion that CEPA protects attorneys from being discharged for refusing to violate Rules of Professional Conduct. Trzaska v. L’Oreal USA, Inc., … Continue Reading

N.D. Illinois Dismisses Illinois Whistleblower Act Claim

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois recently granted a Rule 12(b)(1) and (6) motion to dismiss a former employee’s complaint alleging retaliation under the Illinois Whistleblower Act (“IWA”).  Huang v. Fluidmesh Networks, LLC, No. 16-cv-9566 (N.D. Ill. July 18, 2017). Background.  Plaintiff was a Supply Chain and Manufacturing Manager for Defendant.  … Continue Reading

Tennessee District Court: Dodd-Frank is Not a General Anti-Retaliation Law

The United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee recently emphasized the limited scope of what constitutes protected activity under the Dodd-Frank Act’s (the Act) whistleblower protection provision, noting that the Act protects only “certain kinds of whistleblowers who report certain kinds of violations.”  Boyle v. Evolve Bank & Trust et al, No. … Continue Reading

N.D. Illinois Dismisses Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Claim For Lack Of Complaint To The SEC

On June 7, 2017, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois dismissed a whistleblower retaliation claim under the Dodd-Frank Act because the plaintiff failed to report his complaint of alleged securities violations to the SEC. Martensen v. Chicago Stock Exchange, Case No. 17-cv-1494 (N.D. Ill.) (Shadur, J.) Plaintiff worked as a supervisor … Continue Reading

Third Circuit Revives In-House Attorney’s Whistleblower Claim

On April 12, 2017, the Third Circuit partially revived a former in-house attorney’s whistleblower retaliation lawsuit against his previous employer.  Danon v. Vanguard Group, Inc., No. 16-cv-2881. Plaintiff, a former in-house tax lawyer, previously raised retaliation claims against the Company in New York State Court under the New York False Claims Act, alleging he was … Continue Reading

N.D. Indiana: Employer Bears Burden of Proving Whistleblower Exhausted Administrative Remedies

On February 1, 2016, the Northern District of Indiana ruled in a case brought under the Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA) that whether a whistleblower has fulfilled relevant administrative requirements prior to filing suit is a “condition precedent” rather than a “jurisdictional requirement.”  King v. Ind. Harbor Belt R.R., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43263 (N.D. … Continue Reading

Maryland District Court Dismisses SOX and Dodd Frank Whistleblower Claims

On March 1, 2017, the District of Maryland dismissed a Dodd Frank whistleblower retaliation claim because the plaintiff failed to allege that he had complained directly to the SEC about a violation of securities laws, and dismissed the plaintiff’s SOX whistleblower retaliation claim because the complaint did not allege that the employer was a publically … Continue Reading

SEC Reduces Whistleblower Bounty Based On Culpability And Delayed Reporting

On February 28, 2017, in an Order almost entirely devoid of detail, the SEC announced that a whistleblower will receive 20% of any monetary sanctions collected in an enforcement action commenced as a result of the whistleblower’s tip. The SEC is giving this “reduced” award while acknowledging that the whistleblower (1) was “culpable” in the … Continue Reading

Florida Private Sector Whistleblower Must Show Actual Violation of Law

The Middle District of Florida recently held that to establish a prima facie case under the Florida Private Whistleblower Act (FWA), § 448.102(3), Fla. Stat., a plaintiff must show an actual violation of a law, rule or regulation. Graddy v. Wal–Mart Stores E., LP, No. 5:16-CV-9-OC-28PRL (M.D. Fla. Feb. 14, 2017).… Continue Reading

S.D.N.Y. Dismisses Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Retaliation Claim

In one of the first cases to address the standard governing a motion for summary judgment in a Dodd-Frank whistleblower retaliation case, Judge Jed S. Rakoff ruled that two former executives of Vista Outdoor Inc. (the Company) had failed to show that their terminations were causally connected to vague complaints about internal Company controls.  Vista … Continue Reading

Proskauer to Present on Modern Whistleblower Retaliation Law and the SEC Bounty Program at Bloomberg’s BNA Webinar

On Friday, March 3, 2017, Proskauer Partner Steve Pearlman will present on key aspects of modern whistleblower retaliation law, SEC enforcement actions involving “pre-taliation,” and the SEC Office of the Whistleblower bounty program. Pearlman is the co-head of the Whistleblowing & Retaliation Group.  He will join co-panelist Sean X. McKessy, Partner, Phillips & Cohen LLP, … Continue Reading

Proskauer to Present at Whistleblower Conference in NY

On Monday, February 27, 2017, Proskauer Partner Steve Pearlman, co-head of the Firm’s Whistleblowing & Retaliation Group, will present on key considerations for crafting effective employment-related agreements, including separation and settlement agreements, at a program developed by Compliance Week and Financial Research Associates. This in-depth conversation will allow senior compliance, finance, and audit executives the … Continue Reading

District of Massachusetts Clarifies Immunity Defense Burden Under Defend Trade Secrets Act

As noted in our May 2016 client alert, President Obama signed the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA), which establishes a federal cause of action for misappropriation of trade secrets into law.  As part of its protections, the DTSA provides an immunity defense for lawful disclosures (as defined by the law), including disclosures to an attorney for … Continue Reading

E.D. Pennsylvania Limits Protected Activity Under SOX

In Westawski v. Merck & Co., No. 14-cv-3239 (E.D. Pa. Oct. 18, 2016), the Eastern District of Pennsylvania granted Defendant Merck & Co. (Company) summary judgment on Plaintiff Joni Westawski’s (Plaintiff) SOX whistleblower retaliation claim, concluding that her purported belief that the Company violated securities laws was not objectively reasonable.… Continue Reading

Proskauer Joins Heads of SEC & OSHA Whistleblower Programs in Webinar

On September 27, 2016, Proskauer Partner Steven J. Pearlman, co-head of the Whistleblowing & Retaliation Practice Group, participated in a Bloomberg webinar with Jane Norberg, Acting Chief of the SEC Office of the Whistleblower, MaryAnn Garrahan, Director of OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program, and plaintiff-side practitioner, Jason Zuckerman.  The participants discussed: the SEC Whistleblower Reward Program; … Continue Reading

Whistleblower’s Attorney’s Communications with Regulators Found to be Protected by Work Product Doctrine

A California Magistrate Judge in BofI Federal Bank v. Erhart ruled that a whistleblower’s attorney’s communications sent to federal regulators were protected by the attorney work product doctrine.  No. 15-cv-2353 (S.D. Cal. Aug. 5, 2016).  The court concluded that the whistleblower’s attorney had not waived work product protection through her disclosure to third-party regulators, finding that she … Continue Reading

SDNY Refuses to Dismiss Executive’s Dodd-Frank Retaliation Claim

On August 24, 2016, the Southern District of New York denied Defendants’ motion to dismiss a Dodd-Frank whistleblower retaliation claim brought by its former co-CEO and Executive Chairman of its Board of Directors, finding that the Plaintiff made a protected complaint alleging securities law violations to a person with supervisory authority.  Kuhns v. Ledger, No. … Continue Reading

E.D. Wisconsin: SOX Does Not Protect Whistleblower Complaints Based On Immaterial, Routine Events

On August 25, 2016, the Eastern District of Wisconsin granted the Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment on its former CEO’s SOX whistleblower claim.  The court ruled that Plaintiff’s complaint to the Board of Directors did not implicate any securities violations or fraud, and was not a protected disclosure where it was the Board itself Plaintiff … Continue Reading

OSHA Launches “Expedited Case Processing Pilot” For Whistleblower Claims

On August 1, 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) launched a new pilot program, titled “Expedited Case Processing Pilot,” in its Western region.  Here is the DOL’s press release describing the program.  The program enables a complainant filing claims under whistleblower statutes to ask OSHA to cease its investigation and issue findings in an … Continue Reading

SEC Penalizes Company For Severance Language Purportedly Impeding Complaints

On August 10, 2016, the SEC announced that BlueLinx Holdings Inc. (Company) is settling charges that it violated Rule 21F-17 by requiring outgoing employees to waive whistleblower bounty awards in connection with severance agreements and by using an overly restrictive confidentiality clause.  The Company agreed to pay a penalty of $265,000 and revise its agreements.  … Continue Reading

S.D.N.Y. Dismisses SOX and Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Claims For Lack Of Protected Activity

On June 22, 2016, Judge Daniels of the Southern District of New York dismissed SOX and Dodd-Frank whistleblower claims, ruling that Plaintiff’s alleged internal complaints did not constitute protected activity, as they did not implicate securities laws, mail fraud, or wire fraud.  Diaz v. Transatlantic Reinsurance Co., No. 16-cv-1355.… Continue Reading
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