Proskauer Whistleblower Defense

Per our previous post, the European Parliament and the Member States agreed to adopt new rules that would set the standard for protecting whistleblowers across the EU from dismissal, demotion, and other forms of retaliation when they report breaches of various areas of EU law. According to a press release issued by the European Parliament on April 16, 2019, the Parliament approved these changes by an overwhelming majority. The new rules require that employers create…
On March 26, 2019, the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower announced two multi-million dollar awards to whistleblowers who provided the SEC with information that assisted the agency in bringing a successful enforcement action.  The larger of the two awards, $37 million, is the SEC’s third-highest award to date, after a $50 million award in March 2018 and a $39 million award in September 2018. Jane Norberg, Chief of the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower, said…
On March 11, 2019, a federal court in Minnesota rejected an employer’s attempt to litigate a plaintiff’s state-law whistleblower claim in a federal forum, ruling it was insufficient that the plaintiff alleged violations of federal regulations because the narrow exception to federal-question jurisdiction was not present.  Martinson v. Mahube-Otwa Cmty. Action P’ship, Inc., No. 18-cv-03001. Background Plaintiff’s employer operated a Head-Start program, which is a federally funded program that provides early childhood education, health,…
According to a press release issued by the European Commission today, the European Parliament and the Member States have agreed to adopt new rules that set the standard for protecting individuals who blow the whistle on breaches of EU law from dismissal, demotion, and other forms of retaliation. This reform, which was first proposed by the European Commission in April 2018, seeks to replace the patchwork of whistleblower protections that currently exist across the Member…
On February 28, 2019, a Los Angeles jury issued a verdict of $1.5 million in damages to a former employee who alleged his employer retaliated against him for reporting misconduct in violation of the False Claims Act (“FCA”), 31 U.S.C. § 3730(h), the Defense Contractor Whistleblower Protection Act (“DCWPA”), 10 U.S.C. § 2409, and California’s whistleblower statute, California Labor Code section 1102.5.  Lillie v. ManTech Int’l Corp, No. 17-cv-02538 (C.D. Cal.).  The verdict form can…
According to data released by OSHA, the number of whistleblower complaints filed under SOX and the Consumer Financial Protection Act (“CFPA”) declined in 2018.  OSHA received 45 complaints under the CFPA in 2018 (down 50% from the 90 complaints received in 2017) and 155 complaints under SOX (down from the 186 received in 2017). Whistleblower complaint determinations were also down in 2018, from 3,432 cases resolved in 2017 (whether on the merits, or because the…
On February 26, 2019, the Ninth Circuit affirmed much of a jury’s approximately $11M verdict finding that a former general counsel was discharged in retaliation for reporting alleged Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) violations.  Wadler v. Bio-Rad Labs., Inc., No. 17-cv-16193. Background Sanford Wadler, then the former General Counsel of Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. (the “Company”) filed whistleblower retaliation claims against the Company and its CEO under SOX and Dodd-Frank, along with a wrongful termination…
On March 4, 2019, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) issued a whistleblower award totaling more than $2 million to be paid to an individual whistleblower, as part of its Dodd-Frank whistleblower program.  This award is particularly interesting because the whistleblower “provide[d] critical information through independent analysis of market data,” according to the CFTC press release, but was not a corporate insider. The Director of the Whistleblower Office, Christopher Ehrman, said in the…
On February 15, 2019, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the grant of summary judgment in favor of Andeavor Corporation f/k/a Tesoro Corporation on a SOX whistleblower claim, concluding that the plaintiff lacked an objectively reasonable belief that the company was misreporting its revenue to the SEC.  Wallace v. Andeavor Corp., No. 17-cv-50927. Background Plaintiff, a Vice President of Pricing and Commercial Analysis, was a sub-certifier of the company’s financial statements.  He was tasked with investigating…
On January 15, 2019, the First Circuit ruled that a plaintiff adequately alleges protected activity under the FCA whistleblower protection provision where he asserts that he reported concerns about his employer’s conduct that could reasonably lead to a viable FCA action.  Guilfoile v. Shields, Sr., No. 17-1610. Background Plaintiff, a former executive of pharmacy chain Shields Health Solutions who reported directly to owner John Shields, alleged that during the course of his employment he…