The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently announced that SandRidge Energy Inc., an Oklahoma City-based oil and gas company, has settled charges of illegal separation agreements and whistleblower retaliation. The company agreed to pay a fine of $1.4 million, but did not admit fault as part of the settlement.
According to the SEC, SandRidge Energy conducted various reviews of separation agreements after new whistleblower protection laws went into effect in August 2011. However, the company continued to use restrictive language that prohibited employees who left the company from participating in any ensuing government investigations into the company’s practices, or from disclosing any information that could be potentially harmful to the company.
The agency also found that the company fired a whistleblower from inside the company who regularly raised concerns about the process SandRidge was using to calculate the oil and gas reserves listed in its public reports. Before raising these concerns, the employee had been offered a promotion, but had that promotion turned down afterward.
Months later, senior management labeled the employee as “disruptive” and decided to replace the individual with one who would work without causing any “internal strife.” Upon terminating the employee, the separation agreement contained language violating whistleblower protection laws.
Whistleblowers afforded certain protections
There are many laws in place to protect whistleblowers from retaliation by their employers. If you raised concerns about company practices and have since experienced some form of retaliation, you may have the right to file a whistleblower claim. For more information about how to proceed with your case, contact a trusted Dallas attorney at Whistleblower Law for Managers.