Will the Supreme Court Finally Settle Arguments over Whistleblower Protections?

There’s a chance that the scope of the whistleblower protections outlined in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 could be analyzed and determined by the U.S. Supreme Court. Recently, a Second Circuit Court of Appeals decision created a split in the judges, which means intervention from the Supreme Court could be seen as necessary.

In 2013, the Fifth Circuit ruled that an employee could not receive protections under the statute because he reported the alleged wrongdoing internally rather than to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). This past September, the Second Circuit ruled in the opposite direction, saying internal complaints do in fact qualify for protection under Dodd-Frank, whether or not they were reported to the SEC.

An ongoing debate

The Dodd-Frank law as enacted was not completely clear about the protections for employees who act as whistleblowers. Section 78u-6(a)(6) of the law defines a whistleblower as being any person who “provides two or more individuals acting jointly who provide information relating to a violation of the securities laws to the Commission, in a manner established, by rule or regulation, by the Commission.”

This element of the definition of a whistleblower has been at the crux of numerous debates on the scope of such protections. Does a person qualify for protections if he or she makes reports outside of the SEC? The U.S. Supreme Court could shed some light on the intent of the rule and whether it actually protects internal whistleblowers.

For more information and insights on this issue and the processes associated with filing whistleblower claims, contact the knowledgeable attorneys at Whistleblower Law for Managers in Dallas, Texas.