Whistleblower Watch

Whistleblower Watch

Reports and Analysis of Developments in Whistleblower Law

Christine Hawes

Christine Hawes

Christine B. Hawes is a counsel in Crowell & Moring’s Labor & Employment Group. Christine’s practice focuses on litigation of individual and class actions arising in all areas of labor and employment law, including:

Fair Labor Standards Act and state law wage-and-hour statutes
Title VII and state anti-discrimination laws
Americans with Disabilities Act
Family and Medical Leave Act and related state statutes
Federal and state whistleblower statutes, including the False Claims Act
Alleged wrongful termination
Non-competition agreements and other employee contracts
Misappropriation of trade secrets claims

Read Christine's bio on Crowell & Moring's website

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Contractor Whistleblower Protections Are Here to Stay

Posted in Legislation, Whistleblower Retaliation
President Obama has signed Public Law 114-261, which makes permanent the current government contractor whistleblower protection pilot program and standardizes its protections across agencies. Read more about this law, as well as best practices and current developments in defending whistleblower reprisal investigations run by Offices of Inspectors General, here.… Continue Reading

Second-Largest Whistleblower Award Issued by SEC

Posted in Dodd-Frank Act (Dodd-Frank), Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC)
Last week, the SEC awarded more than $17 million to a single former corporate executive who provided a “detailed tip” regarding securities law violations by a financial services company.  Four other individuals made claims in the case, which the SEC denied because their information did not lead to successful enforcement of the securities law violations.   … Continue Reading

2015 SEC Whistleblower Report Highlights Successes and Trends

Posted in Dodd-Frank Act (Dodd-Frank), Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC)
In November, the Securities and Exchange Commission issued its 2015 annual report to Congress on the agency’s Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Program. The report notes an increased number of tips made by whistleblowers to the SEC — up 8% from last year and 30% since 2012.  The statistics in the report also provide an interesting profile of… Continue Reading

Second Circuit Creates Circuit Split Over Internal Whistleblowers

Posted in Dodd-Frank Act (Dodd-Frank), Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), Whistleblower Retaliation
The Second Circuit ruled in Berman v. Neo@Ogilvy LLC that a whistleblower whose employment was terminated after he raised concerns internally at his company, rather than filing a formal complaint with the SEC, was protected from retaliation under the Dodd-Frank Act. While recognizing that the statutory protections do not clearly cover internal complainants, the Second… Continue Reading

SEC Continues Efforts to Protect Internal Whistleblowers under Dodd-Frank

Posted in Dodd-Frank Act (Dodd-Frank), Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC)
The SEC recently issued interpretative guidance addressing an issue vexing courts since the passage of Dodd-Frank: whether the statute covers those individuals who only report concerns internally and fail to report to the SEC. In the guidance, the SEC concedes that the statutory language is “ambiguous” but attempts to clarify its view of the scope… Continue Reading

“Watch List” Update: Third Circuit Avoids Opining on Protection of Internal Whistleblowers

Posted in Dodd-Frank Act (Dodd-Frank), State Whistleblower Laws, Whistleblower Retaliation
The Third Circuit Court of Appeals recently issued its decision in Safarian v. American DG Energy Inc., a case we have been watching closely. Although the trial court sidestepped the issue, the SEC had filed an amicus curiae brief asking the Third Circuit to hold that the Dodd-Frank Act covers whistleblowers who report their concerns… Continue Reading

“Watch List” Update: New Jersey Whistleblowers Can Be Prosecuted for Taking Documents

Posted in State Whistleblower Laws, Whistleblower Retaliation
On Tuesday, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued its decision in State v. Saavedra, holding that a whistleblower can face criminal charges for taking sensitive documents from her employer to support her discrimination and retaliation lawsuit. As we have discussed before, Ivonne Saavedra, a former North Bergen Board of Education employee, took hundreds of confidential… Continue Reading

SEC Announces Whistleblower Award in First Retaliation Enforcement Action

Posted in Dodd-Frank Act (Dodd-Frank), Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), Whistleblower Retaliation
The SEC recently announced its first award under the Dodd-Frank anti-retaliation regulations.  The whistleblower alleged that he was demoted and stripped of his authority after his employer, Paradigm Capital Management, Inc., learned that he complained to the SEC that Paradigm engaged in improper trading practices.  The whistleblower will receive $600,000.  This amount equals 30 percent of… Continue Reading

Maryland Legislature Passes Revised State False Claims Act

Posted in State Whistleblower Laws, Whistleblower Retaliation
On Wednesday, the Maryland House of Delegates voted 89 to 51 to pass the Maryland False Claims Act, which will greatly expand Maryland’s false claims law beyond its current limited application to healthcare-related false claims, such as Medicaid fraud. The Act will now allow individuals who have knowledge of any false claims made to Maryland… Continue Reading

Update: Fifth Circuit Rejects En Banc Rehearing of Halliburton Decision

Posted in Department of Labor (DOL), Internal Investigations, Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), Whistleblower Retaliation
On March 11, 2015, the Fifth Circuit voted 8-7 against rehearing en banc the court’s November decision in Halliburton Co. v. Administrative Review Board. Three Fifth Circuit judges wrote a dissenting opinion, contending that the court should have heard the appeal en banc in order to provide greater clarification and guidance on what types of… Continue Reading

Former Company Officer Awarded up to $575,000 by SEC

Posted in Dodd-Frank Act (Dodd-Frank), Internal Investigations, Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC)
The Securities and Exchange Commission announced yesterday its first whistleblower award to a former company officer who learned about the fraud from another employee. The award, which will be between $475,000 and $575,000, follows on the heels of the SEC’s award to a whistleblower who performed audit and compliance functions. Yesterday’s announcement is noteworthy because… Continue Reading

Job Applicants Not Protected by FCA Whistleblower Protections, Says 6th Circuit

Posted in False Claims Act (FCA), Whistleblower Retaliation
On November 19, 2014, the Sixth Circuit affirmed dismissal of retaliation claims under the False Claims Act (FCA) and other federal statutes because the plaintiff, as a rejected job applicant, was not an “employee” as required by those statutes. In Vander Boegh v. EnergySolutions, Inc., the plaintiff was a landfill manager at a waste management… Continue Reading

SEC Highlights Successes of Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Program to Congress

Posted in Dodd-Frank Act (Dodd-Frank), Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC)
Yesterday, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued its annual report to Congress on the agency’s Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Program. The report details the increased success the program had in 2014, including that it paid awards to nine whistleblowers, as compared to the five awards total in the prior years since the program was established in… Continue Reading

Disclosure of Whistleblower’s Name, Alone, May Be Adverse Employment Action

Posted in Department of Labor (DOL), Internal Investigations, Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), Whistleblower Retaliation
The Fifth Circuit recently affirmed that identifying a complaining employee while requesting that employees preserve documents for an SEC investigation was a “materially adverse” action under the anti-retaliation provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. The issue in Halliburton, Inc. v. Administrative Review Board, U.S. Dep’t of Labor arose when Halliburton employee Anthony Menendez made a confidential… Continue Reading