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2014: A Big Year in Whistleblower Laws

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) began the whistleblower program on July 21, 2010 to incentivize people to come forward with information about financial wrongdoing. Under the program, a whistleblower is entitled to 10 to 30 percent of money collected by the SEC based upon the original information voluntarily provided. The program also forbids retaliation against an employee who exposes securities violations her or his company commits.

The Wall Street Journal, recently forecasted the trends in the whistleblower regulations landscape:

  • High SEC awards to be finalized — Although awards thus far have been limited, numerous cases that involve multimillion-dollar payouts are in the pipeline. The numbers of tips are also expected to rise.
  • False Claims Act whistleblower cases gaining momentum — Fraud cases are growing in numbers, complexity and size. Qui tam whistleblower claims under the False Claims Act have already reached record numbers and are expected to increase substantially.
  • Courts to define “whistleblower” more precisely — Several lawsuits pose the question of who is considered a whistleblower under the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform act’s anti-retaliation provisions. Of note, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decided that whistleblowers were required to report suspected wrongful conduct to the SEC to gain retaliation protection. Court-watchers anticipate a Circuit Court split on this issue and the potential for review by the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • Supreme Court ruling on whether contractors are protected — A primary issue in Lawson vs. FMR LLC before the U.S. Supreme Court is whether contractors and subcontractors are protected from retaliation as whistleblowers under the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
  • Companies encouraging internal whistleblower complaints — Corporations benefit when employees file their complaints internally, rather than reporting wrongdoing to law enforcement or government agencies. For this reason, companies are devising creative rewards — such as bonuses or letters of recognition — as incentives to internal reporting.
  • SEC prioritizing whistleblower retaliation investigations — SEC whistleblower chief Sean McKessy announced that the agency was more aggressively pursuing employers that retaliate against whistleblower employees.

Consult a Texas employment lawyer to learn about how the evolving whistleblower policies affect you.

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In his new book, "Standing Up to China: How a Whistleblower Risked Everything for His Country," former client & Author, Ashley Yablon, quotes Attorney Steve Kardell about Whistelblower Law.
  • "Steve Kardell was terrific in representing me in some very adversarial discussions with Citigroup and also later represented me in my testimony before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission."  -Richard Bowen, Citigroup Whistleblower

  • "Incredible knowledge of employee related concerns and equally brilliant knowledge of health care regulations, standards of practice. I would recommend this firm to anyone."  -V.B.

  • "Reaching out to Steve Kardell was the best decision I made. His ability to provide immediate insight and direction was very powerful, and a huge relief during a very stressful time period. For anyone struggling with a whistleblower situation, I would highly recommend at least speaking with Steve. After a 10 minute call with him, I had a better understanding of what I was dealing with. Even better, he gave me some immediate hope. In the end Steve did a better job than I thought was possible. Steve was able to get in contact with people in my organization, that I didn’t have access to. Because of his years of experience, he already has contacts in many organizations in Dallas. The entire situation was handled peacefully. I was impressed by his ability to “keep the peace”–rather than creating a battle with the organization. The reason I didn’t reach out to a lawyer initially, was because I thought it would mean an immediate end to any hope of a positive relationship with the company. Steve was able to address my concerns, and in the end I was able to continue to work for them."  -KS

  • "Never thought my career would end like it did after 30 years of service. I was part of the first round of the so called reduction of force. I asked myself how can I be part of this with 30 years of seniority. How did they pick these 90 plus employees? Now, the culture of this organization made you question every decision they made. It wasn’t what you knew it’s was a culture of who you know. Nonetheless, I did not accept their severance package. I immediately starting looking for an attorney who would take on my case. After the initial call to Steve I had hope again. He was open and honest about everything and reassured me he would do his best for me, and he did. I had an awesome outcome. Thanks Steve you’re the best."  -S.S.