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SEC Issues First Ever Penalty for Internal Whistleblower Retaliation

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission recently announced that SandRidge Energy, an Oklahoma-based oil and gas company, would pay out $1.4 million to settle claims of retaliation against a whistleblower and use of illegal language in separation agreements with employees.

The penalty marked the first time ever a company was penalized for actions taken against a whistleblower who only reported his or her concerns internally, rather than to the SEC. There had only been two previous cases in which the SEC issued sanctions against a company for whistleblower retaliation, but both of those employees had reported internally and to the agency.

The employee had expressed internal concerns about the methods used to calculate SandRidge’s reserves. Several months later, senior management declared that employee to be disruptive, and wanted him replaced with someone who would work without causing any “internal strife.”

The case’s other charge of illegal restrictive language referred to language that prohibited employees from communicating with the SEC upon leaving their position. SandRidge became the second company in two days to reach a settlement with the SEC over such restrictive language. While SandRidge had conducted multiple reviews of these agreements since the Dodd-Frank whistleblower protections went into effect in 2011, the company had failed to make changes to eliminate language that illegally targeted whistleblowers.

Take action after being a victim of whistleblower retaliation

There are more federal protections afforded to whistleblowers than ever before, including protections against retaliation and wrongful termination. If you believe you have been a victim of retaliation after raising concerns about company practices, contact a skilled Dallas attorney at Whistleblower Law for Managers to learn more about your legal options.

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