Category Archives: SOX Whistleblower Decisions

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E.D. Kentucky Dismisses SOX and Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Counter-Claims

On March 17, 2016, the Eastern District of Kentucky dismissed whistleblower counter-claims against Allstate Insurance Company (“Company”), ruling that Defendant Kevin Keefe’s (“Plaintiff”) SOX claim was untimely and that his Dodd-Frank claim failed to allege a causal connection between the alleged whistleblowing and any alleged adverse employment action.  Allstate Ins. Co. v. Zeefe, No. 15-159.… Continue Reading

3rd Circuit Affirms Dismissal in Long-Running Weist SOX Whistleblower Case

On February 2, 2016, the Third Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the SOX whistleblower retaliation claim in the closely watched case of Weist v. Tyco Electronics Corp., No. 15-2034.  We have posted on key events during the life of this case for several years, here (covering the district court’s grant of summary judgment), here (analyzing the Third Circuit’s opinion regarding … Continue Reading

S.D.N.Y Dismisses Former Employee’s SOX and Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Claims

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York recently granted a motion for summary judgment dismissing a plaintiff’s SOX and Dodd-Frank whistleblower claims. The court ruled that the plaintiff failed to establish retaliation because:  (1) almost all of the plaintiff’s alleged protected activity did not allege shareholder fraud and therefore failed; and (2) the … Continue Reading

Connecticut Court Clarifies SOX Whistleblower Pleading Standard

On December 15, 2015, the District of Connecticut refused to dismiss a SOX whistleblower retaliation claim, ruling that:  (1) the heightened Rule 9(b) pleading standard for fraud claims does not apply to SOX whistleblower retaliation claims; and (2) to plead a “reasonable belief,” a SOX whistleblower plaintiff needs to show that her claim at least approximately … Continue Reading

Tennessee District Court Limits Scope of Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Claim

The Eastern District of Tennessee recently dismissed whistleblower claims, finding that the Plaintiff was not entitled to protection under Sarbanes-Oxley, Dodd-Frank, or the False Claims Act (“FCA”).  Verble v. Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC et al., 3:15-cv-00074 (E.D. Tenn. Dec. 8, 2015).  The court’s decision illustrates the sharp divide amongst courts regarding the scope of … Continue Reading

N.D. Cal.: Internal Whistleblowers Are Protected and May Sue Individual Directors

On October 23, 2015, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California largely denied a motion to dismiss a whistleblower retaliation claim brought by a company’s former general counsel, ruling that:  (I) the SOX and Dodd-Frank anti-retaliation provisions provide for individual liability against board members; and (ii) the Dodd-Frank anti-retaliation provision protects internal … Continue Reading

N.D. Illinois Grants Summary Judgment Against SOX Whistleblower

On August 26, 2015, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois granted summary judgment on a whistleblower retaliation claim under Section 806 of SOX, holding that Plaintiff Ivor Hill failed to establish a prima facie case and that Komatsu America Corp. (Company) would have terminated his employment even in the absence of … Continue Reading

Fifth Circuit Revives SOX Whistleblower Claim But Rejects Allegations Not Exhausted Before OSHA

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

Cal. Court Limits Protected Activity Under Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Provision

In Nazif v. Computer Sciences Corporation, No. 13-cv-5498 (N.D. Cal. June 17, 2015), the Northern District of California granted Defendant Computer Sciences Corp. (Company) summary judgment on Plaintiff Nazif’s Dodd-Frank whistleblower retaliation claim, concluding there was no evidence that his purported belief that the Company violated securities laws was objectively reasonable under Section 806 of … Continue Reading

6th Circuit Reverses Itself, Abandons “Definitively and Specifically” Standard For SOX Whistleblower Protected Activity

On May 28, 2015, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that an employee who reports allegedly fraudulent conduct engages in protected activity under SOX where he or she has a reasonable belief that the activity reported is prohibited under Section 806—even if that belief is mistaken.  Rhinehimer v. U.S. Bancorp Investments, Inc., No. 13-cv-6641.  … Continue Reading

Closely Watched Weist SOX Whistleblower Case Dismissed

The Eastern District of Pennsylvania recently ruled that an employee’s SOX whistleblower retaliation claim failed as a matter of law because no causal connection existed between his complaints and termination and the employer would have taken the same adverse action in the absence of protected activity.  Weist v. Tyco Electronics Corp., No. 10-cv-3288 (E.D.  Pa. Apr. … Continue Reading

Proskauer Joins Heads of SEC and OSHA Whistleblower Programs for 3/31/15 Webinar

Please join us for a webinar with heads of the SEC and OSHA whistleblower programs and a prominent plaintiff-side whistleblower attorney, titled: Whistleblower Reward and Retaliation Claims: Current Developments. Register here:  REGISTER Our distinguished panel will include: Sean X. McKessy – Chief, Securities and Exchange Commission Office of the Whistleblower Anthony Rosa – Department of Labor, … Continue Reading

Video Interview: Discussing the Fifth Circuit Ruling on Outing Whistleblowers with LXBN TV

Following up on our post, Steven J. Pearlman, co-chair of Proskauer’s preeminent Whistleblowing & Retaliation practice group, spoke with Colin O’Keefe of LXBN on the Fifth Circuit’s decision that outing a whistleblower constitutes adverse employment action.  The interview focuses on the background of the case and what the ruling means for employers.… Continue Reading

5th Circuit: Outing Whistleblower Equals Adverse Action

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

Administrative Review Board Clarifies Causation Burdens in SOX Whistleblower Cases

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

SDNY Dismisses Extraterritorial SOX and Dodd Frank Whistleblower Claims

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

Second Circuit Strays From “Definitively and Specifically” Standard But Still Dismisses SOX Claim

On August 8, 2014, the Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a SOX whistleblower retaliation claim brought by a former AECOM Technology Corp. (“Company”) employee, holding that he did not engage in protected activity because he lacked a reasonable belief that the alleged conduct of which he complained violated one of the enumerated federal provisions … Continue Reading

SOX Claim Dismissed: Rejection of IP Assignment Clause Not Protected Activity

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois recently granted a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss a SOX whistleblower retaliation claim, concluding that the plaintiff did not engage in protected activity.  Fuqua v. SVOX AG, No. 14-cv-216 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 1, 2014).  This is a useful decision for employers faced with SOX whistleblower … Continue Reading

Eleventh Circuit Sustains Award To Employer In Whistleblower Case

In a warning to plaintiffs’ counsel who seek emotional distress damages for alleged whistleblower retaliation under Florida law, the Eleventh Circuit in Smith v. Psychiatric Solutions, Inc., 750 F.3d 1253 (11th Cir. May 6, 2014) has created a Hobson’s choice: forcing plaintiff-employees either to forego potential emotional distress damages available under state law or risk … Continue Reading

E.D. Pennsylvania Limits Supreme Court’s SOX Whistleblower Decision

In a case of first impression, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ruled that the U.S. Supreme Court’s holding in Lawson v. FMR LLC, 134 S. Ct. 1158 (2014)—that the whistleblower protection provision in Section 806 of SOX protects employees of a private contractor to a publicly-traded company—does not cover an … Continue Reading

S.D.N.Y. Takes Broad Approach To SOX and Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Claims

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York recently denied a motion to dismiss a plaintiff’s SOX and Dodd-Frank whistleblower claims, ruling that (i) the plaintiff engaged in SOX protected activity even though her purported protected activity was part and parcel of her job duties as Chief Risk Officer, and (ii) she … Continue Reading

4th Circuit: SOX Whistleblower Failed To Establish A Prima Facie Case Regarding Causation

On May 12, 2014, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment on a SOX whistleblower claim, concluding that the whistleblowers’ alleged protected activity was not a “contributing factor” in the challenged adverse employment action.  Feldman v. Law Enforcement Assoc. Corp., No. 13-1849 (4th Cir. May 12, 2014).  Armed with this decision, employers are … Continue Reading
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