U.S. Supreme Court to Rule on Whistleblower Retaliation Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear Murray v. UBS Securities, LLC. This case revolves around whether a whistleblower bears the burden of proving an employer's retaliatory intent, or whether the employer must demonstrate that it had no intention of retaliating against the whistleblower. The case has far-reaching implications for the legal protections afforded to whistleblowers under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.

Case background

Trevor Murray was a strategist at UBS Securities. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, he was laid off. Murray was rehired in 2011 but laid off again in 2012, attributed to yet another reduction in force.

Murray alleged that his termination was a direct result of his reporting of alleged fraud within the organization. He claimed he had reported illicit efforts by his colleagues to manipulate his independent research analysis. Murray's lawsuit contended that UBS had violated the whistleblower protections established by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the anti-retaliation provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

In 2017, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled in favor of Murray. The court found his allegations regarding his colleagues' misconduct to be credible and determined that his whistleblowing had contributed to his termination.

On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed the District Court's decision, holding that the law necessitates a whistleblower to demonstrate that their employer took adverse employment action against them with a retaliatory intent. Murray contended that he only needed to establish that his whistleblowing played a role in his termination.

The outcome of Murray v. UBS Securities, LLC carries substantial implications for employers, particularly regarding their treatment of whistleblowers and potential retaliation. Retaliation against whistleblowers may manifest in various forms, including isolating employees, excluding them from meetings, differential treatment, removal of job responsibilities, denial of necessary information and imposition of unattainable performance targets.

If you’ve been retaliated against due to reporting wrongdoing, contact a knowledgeable whistleblower attorney at Kardell Law Group today.