As one of California’s leading employment law firms, Danz & Associates regularly reviews federal and state court whistle blower recoveries and trends. The Securities and Exchange Commission recently announced some astounding statistics for 2015 reports of Dodd Frank violations. Here’s a short summary:
- SEC received almost 4,000 complaints of corporate violations and paid whistleblowers $37M.
- Issued is first retaliatory misconduct award
- Awarded nearly half the bounty to employees reporting their own corporation’s wrongdoing.
- Started enforcement action against an employer who used a confidentiality agreement to slow down or deny whistle blower reports.
Expect government agencies like the SEC to continue to prosecute companies that insist on confidentiality agreements (i.e., not reporting suspected misconduct to governmental agencies). Additionally, in proper cases we will ask the government to file amicus briefs in support of anti-retaliation measures in private whistle blower retaliation claims.
Many claims brought to our attention involve attorney-employees. There are numerous rules relating to what materials attorneys may use in prosecuting their own claims as employees and it is critical to seek legal advise while still employed. In one recent federal false claim case, the attorney was allowed to use otherwise-privileged documents under what is generally known as the “crime fraud” exception to the attorney client privilege. Additionally false claim and retaliation case law looks to whether the whistle blower had as part of their job duty, the reporting of the illegality to management. The more the employee (whether an attorney or not) has gone outside of their job description to report wrongdoing , the more likely he/she will be deemed a whistle blower.
The courts are widely split on how broadly to interpret anti-retaliation provisions of Dodd Frank. This coming year will be a bell weather in giving teeth to the statutory purpose of encouraging whistle blowing and discouraging retaliation.
SD&A represents whistle blowers throughout California in all forms of adverse action cases, including demotion, transfer to a less desirable (and visible) location; pay cuts and/or denial of options to which the employee may be entitled. Contact us for a full and confidential evaluation of your whistle blowing case. 877 789-9707.