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Court Enforces Arbitration Agreement in Dodd-Frank Act Retaliation Case

The court in Wussow v. Bruker Corp., decided on June 28, 2017, ruled that whistleblower claims brought under the Dodd-Frank Act are subject to mandatory arbitration. 

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Supreme Court to Determine Scope of Protected Activity Under Dodd-Frank Act

Attorney Clayton Wire has recently published a blog post on WhistleblowerBlawg.com regarding the Supreme Court’s grant of certiorari in Digital Realty v. Somers, to resolve a circuit split over whether a whistleblower must first report to the SEC before being entitled to protection under the Dodd-Frank Act’s anti-retaliation provision. Click here to read the full post. 

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Commodity Futures Trading Commission Strengthens Whistleblower Program

On May 22, 2017, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) adopted amendments to its whistleblower rules, continuing its three-year effort to strengthen the commission’s whistleblower program and its ability to protect whistleblowers from employer retaliation. The amendments expand the commission’s ability to pursue retaliation claims on behalf of whistleblowers and prohibit confidentiality agreements that interfere with whistleblowers’ communications with the CFTC.

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Bio-Rad Whistleblower Protected for “Reasonable” Incorrect Claim

After only three hours of deliberation, a federal jury in San Francisco determined that Bio- Rad, a life science company, retaliated against its former General Counsel, Sanford Wadler, for reporting violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). Wadler alleged he was fired for reporting possible FCPA violations after he found documents showing Bio-Rad’s distribution of free products in China. Wadler was fired from the company in June 2013.

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Dodd-Frank Act Whistleblower Bounty and Retaliation Claim Basics

In 2010, Congress enacted the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, otherwise known as the Dodd-Frank Act, in response to the banking and investment problems that led to the 2008 economic recession. The Dodd-Frank Act was an amendment of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and sought to more stringently regulate the U.S. financial industry, specifically large banks and insurance companies, to prevent failures that have major negative effects on the national and global economies.

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Seventh Circuit Permits Whistleblower’s RICO Claims Based on SOX Violation to Go Forward

In an opinion that provides new ammunition for whistleblowers, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit permitted Michael DeGuelle’s claim for retaliation under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) to continue.  According to his Complaint, Mr. DeGuelle had previously blown the whistle internally on tax law violations by his employer S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc., before he filed a claim under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) with the Department of Labor.  Subsequent to this filing, Mr. DeGuelle was terminated in apparent retaliation for his SOX filing and whistleblowing activities.  Mr. DeGuelle filed a lawsuit alleging various state and federal claims.  Two of Mr. DeGuelle’s claims alleged that his former employer violated the federal RICO statutes based upon a pattern of racketeering activity, which includes violation of § 1513 of SOX.  Under this section of SOX, it is a crime to “knowlingly, with intent to retaliate, take[] any action harmful to any person, including interference with the lawful employment or livelihood of any person, for providing to a law enforcement officer any truthful information relating to the commission or possible commission of any Federal offense[.]” 18 U.S.C. 1513(e).   The Seventh Circuit stated that “[t]he language of § 1513(e) and logic imply that retaliatory actions always occur after a whistleblower reports others' wrongdoing,” and consequently the retaliation for such whistleblowing could be considered  part of a scheme to prevent disclosure, and thus a proper basis for a RICO claim.  This ruling permits whistleblowers who file a complaint under SOX and are retaliated against to take advantage of the increased damages provisions and attorney fees provisions of the federal RICO statutes.  Current or former employees who have blown the whistle against their employers, or who are contemplating blowing the whistle, should contact Ogborn Mihm LLP immediately to discuss their options.

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