Supreme Court Curbs Protections for Whistleblowers
Supreme Court Curbs Protections for Whistleblowers
21 February, 2018, 21:28
But in delivering the opinion of the court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the core of Dodd-Frank's whistleblower program is to aid the SEC's enforcement work by "motivating people who know of securities law violations to tell the SEC". Both Acts shield whistleblowers from retaliation, but they differ in important respects, the Court wrote.
The ruling could inhibit employees from trying to resolve complaints of wrongdoing in-house without involving the SEC, and also could impede retaliation suits by workers who accuse businesses of firing them for reporting such conduct.
The case the court ruled in involves Paul Somers, previously a vice-president for San Francisco-based Digital Realty Trust Inc, a real-estate investment trust with global offices.
The justices decided unanimously that measures in the Dodd-Frank Act that protects whistleblowers from being fired, demoted or harassed only applies to people who report legal violations to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the federal government's financial watchdog.
The disputed provision is one of two major federal protections for corporate whistle-blowers.
The core goal of the the Dodd-Frank whistle-blower provision was "to motivate people who know of securities law violations to tell the SEC", Ginsburg wrote, quoting from a Senate report. Dodd-Frank allows whistle-blowers more time to file cases and authorizes larger awards.
Somers and his attorney argued his employment should have been protected under the Dodd-Frank rule. Somers sued when he was sacked in 2014 and, after losing his case on Wednesday at the supreme court in Washington, his lawyer said Somers had been trying to do the right thing.
The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals previous year upheld a federal judge's decision that the law covered a wide array of disclosures by whistleblowers, not just those who report to the SEC.
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