Court Rules That Outing a Whistleblower Constitutes Retaliation

When whistleblowers intend to remain in their company after alerting authorities to wrongdoing, it is imperative that they are able to maintain their privacy so that they would not be the victims of retaliation by other employees. In a case involving a whistleblower for Halliburton Co., a court ruled that a company that reveals the identity of a whistleblower could still be found guilty of retaliation.

In a ruling that upheld an initial ruling by the United States Department of Labor Administrative Review Board, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals determined that Halliburton was in fact guilty of retaliating against former employee Anthony Menendez by revealing to his colleagues that he had acted as a whistleblower against the company. This led to Menendez being repeatedly ostracized by his coworkers.

Menendez originally reported some of his concerns about Halliburton’s accounting in 2005. Later that year, he also filed a complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) when, apparently, Halliburton failed to follow through on the complaints that he issued. Once the SEC informed Halliburton of its investigation into the company’s accounting, an executive (Bert Cornelison) sent an email out to Menendez’s colleagues that implicated him as being the whistleblower that caused the investigation.

Within the time period following the email, Menendez began to be treated differently by his colleagues. The SEC investigation closed without any action being taken against Halliburton, but Menendez had to continue to deal with the effects. According to the Administrative Review Board, Halliburton’s conduct in the situation violated the Sarbanes-Oxley act.

If you have been the subject of employer’s retaliation, meet with the skilled Dallas lawyers at Whistleblower Law for Managers for more information on your legal rights.