Employment Discrimination Blog

Friday, March 6, 2015

SEC Investigating Corporate Treatment of Whistleblower Employees

Can my employer retaliate against me for being a whistleblower?

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is investigating whether companies are trying to silence and retaliate against whistleblowers. A whistleblower is an employee who complains of illegal or unethical activities either internally or to a government agency. Whistleblowers play an important role in keeping employers honest, and there are state and federal laws protecting their rights.

Authorized by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law, the SEC started a whistleblower program which rewards people reporting possible securities law violations if their tip leads to more than $1 million in sanctions. Awards can range between 10 and 30 percent of money collected by the agency. The SEC Office of the Whistleblower received more than 3,500 tips last year. This is the highest number since the program started.

Concerned about corporate backlash against whistleblowers, the SEC issued letters to several companies seeking years of documents such as nondisclosure agreements and employment contracts. It is unknown how many letters were sent or to whom. The documents being sought by the SEC might reveal employers discouraging whistleblowers. Sometimes these kinds of documents contain clauses that require employees to forfeit any awards, even though such clauses are prohibited by federal regulations.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called on Congress for action last year, stating that Wall Street companies often shielded their leaders from responsibility for misconduct. Holder suggested increasing rewards for whistleblowers and requested funding for more FBI agents with forensic accounting expertise.

If you live in Georgia and believe your employer is involved in illegal activities but fear speaking up, contact the attorneys at Pankey & Horlock, LLC. We have decades of experience representing clients and aggressively protecting their rights. Call (770)670-6250 today to schedule a consultation and learn more about state and federal legal protections for whistleblowers.

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The attorneys of Pankey & Horlock, LLC serve the entire state of Georgia, including Atlanta, Alpharetta, Auburn, Decatur, Doraville, Douglasville, Duluth, Kennesaw, Lawrenceville, Marietta, Stone Mountain, Dekalb County, Fulton County, Gwinnett County, and Cobb County, GA.

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