Search Site
Menu
Supreme Court Decision Places Limitations on the Protections for Corporate Whistleblowers

A February U.S. Supreme Court decision significantly limited the protections available for corporate whistleblowers. The court ruled in the case of Digital Realty Trust v. Somers that corporate whistleblowers are not protected from termination unless they reported possible instances of fraud to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The case is a big blow for corporate whistleblowers across the nation — even the justices of the Supreme Court admitted their ruling could significantly roll back whistleblower protections that were put in place after the economy collapsed in 2008. However, the ruling was a unanimous one — they said the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 clearly defined protected whistleblowers as being people who reported potential fraud “to the commission,” meaning the SEC.

According to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the intent of Congress might have been to offer broader protections to corporate whistleblowers. However, as written, the law clearly indicates a particular class of people protected from retaliation. It would, therefore, take an amendment to the law to expand the protections previously thought to have been afforded under the law.

Case could have an impact on whistleblowers’ strategies

The decision dismisses most of a lawsuit filed by an executive in San Francisco who claims he was fired as a vice president of a real estate investment firm after complaining to executives about hidden cost overruns at a branch office in Asia. However, he did not make the same complaints with the SEC and was fired.

While the court decision poses an immediate victory for employers, it might not last long. Now, employees who discover wrongdoing in the workplace will be more likely to avoid reporting internally and will instead take their concerns straight to the SEC.

To learn more about how the Supreme Court’s ruling could affect whistleblower retaliation cases in the future, contact a knowledgeable Dallas lawyer at Kardell Law Group.

Honors
Our Office
  • Dallas Office
    4514 Cole Ave
    #600
    Dallas, Texas 75205
    Phone: 214-306-8045
    Fax: 469-729-9926
Testimonials
  • "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

  • "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.

  • "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

FOLLOW US
Facebook Twitter Linkedin RSS Feed JD Supra