Whistleblower Watch

Whistleblower Watch

Reports and Analysis of Developments in Whistleblower Law

Tag Archives: Whistleblower Litigation

House Bill Lays Out New Whistleblower Protections for Contractors

Posted in Legislation
Last week, a group of House members led by Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), introduced bipartisan legislation to extend the whistleblower protections currently afforded contractors, grant recipients and subcontractors, to subgrantees and personal services contractors.  The House legislation, named the Whistleblower Protections for Contractors Act (H.R. 5920), would also make the temporary… Continue Reading

District Court finds SEC Regulation on Dodd-Frank Not Entitled To Deference on Whistleblower Protections

Posted in Dodd-Frank Act (Dodd-Frank), Whistleblower Retaliation
Another federal court has joined the Fifth Circuit on one side of a circuit court split, rejecting the SEC’s interpretation that a whistleblower need not report potential Dodd-Frank Act violations to the SEC to gain protection under the anti-retaliation provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act. Federal District judge Thomas A. Varlan of the Eastern District 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

Relator-Friendly Ruling Highlights Dangers of Imprecise Settlement Agreements

Posted in Department of Justice (DOJ), False Claims Act (FCA)
The Middle District of Tennessee ruled recently that Community Health Systems, Inc. (CHS) cannot rely upon the “first to file” and “public disclosure” bars to avoid paying attorneys’ fees and costs where a settlement agreement did not specify these grounds for precluding such awards to the relators. This outcome should warn defense counsel to clearly… Continue Reading

D.C. Circuit Affirms (Again) Sanctity of Privileged Internal Investigations of Whistleblower Claims

Posted in False Claims Act (FCA), Internal Investigations
Employers hoping to assert privilege over documents created in internal investigations are breathing a sigh of relief in the wake of the D.C. Circuit’s second decision in In re: Kellogg Brown & Root, Inc. The D.C. Circuit granted KBR’s request for a writ of mandamus on attorney-client privilege grounds to prevent a whistleblower from obtaining… 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 Supreme Court Says “Watchdog” Employees Can Be CEPA Whistleblowers; No Special Requirements Imposed

Posted in State Whistleblower Laws, Whistleblower Retaliation
The New Jersey Supreme Court recently ruled that “watchdog” employees should be treated like all other employees under the state’s Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA). In Lippman v. Ethicon, Inc., a case we reported on in January, the New Jersey Supreme Court upheld an intermediate appellate court’s decision that employees with compliance-related job duties, or… 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

FCA Claim Dismissed Because Whistleblower Not the “Original Source” of Pricing Information

Posted in False Claims Act (FCA)
The Third Circuit recently affirmed a ruling that the False Claims Act’s (FCA) “original source rule” is not satisfied if a whistleblowing relator merely compiles publically available information. In U.S. ex rel. Morgan v. Express Scripts, Inc., the court affirmed the dismissal of a whistleblower’s FCA allegations because the relator was not an original source… Continue Reading

Sixth Circuit Joins Other Courts in Easing Burden for SOX Whistleblowers

Posted in Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), Whistleblower Retaliation
The Sixth Circuit recently became the third circuit court to lessen the burden for putative SOX whistleblowers in proving they engaged in protected activity. In Rhinehimer v. U.S. Bancorp Investments, Inc., the Sixth Circuit abrogated a prior unpublished decision that required an employee’s complaint to “‘definitively and specifically relate to one of the six enumerated… Continue Reading

OSHA Publishes Revisions to Whistleblower Investigations Manual

Posted in Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA)
Last month, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a newly revised version of the Whistleblower Investigations Manual for OSHA personnel responsible for investigating complaints under the array of whistleblower protection programs the agency administers pursuant to 22 separate federal statutes. Only one new statute – the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st… 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

Crowell & Moring Discusses Recent Developments in the FCA’s Public Disclosure Bar

Posted in Department of Justice (DOJ), False Claims Act (FCA)
In a recent article for the BNA Federal Contracts Report, three C&M attorneys analyzed recent developments in the “public disclosure bar,” which prevents private whistleblowers in certain circumstances from bringing suit under the False Claims Act.  Recent judicial opinions have cabined what it means to be “publicly disclosed.”  The Seventh Circuit’s view – that “[d]isclosure… Continue Reading

SEC Claims Employer’s Confidentiality Agreement Muzzles Whistleblowers; Orders Change to Agreement and $130,000 Fine

Posted in Internal Investigations, Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), Whistleblower Retaliation
The SEC issued a cease and desist order to KBR, Inc. this week requiring the company to revise the confidentiality agreement it insists witnesses sign during internal investigations. The SEC also imposed a $130,000 fine. This announcement comes on the heels of a recent report that the SEC is scrutinizing non-disclosure, confidentiality and other agreements to determine… Continue Reading

“Watch List” Update: 2nd Circuit Affirms SEC’s Denial of Award to Pre-Dodd-Frank Tipster

Posted in Dodd-Frank Act (Dodd-Frank), Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC)
Following up on a case we first reported on in October 2014, the Second Circuit recently affirmed the SEC’s refusal to grant an award to a tipster who provided information to the SEC prior to when the Dodd-Frank Act took effect.  In Stryker v. Securities and Exchange Commission, the plaintiff was seeking an award under… Continue Reading

Court Finds SOX Protects Post-Employment Activities of Whistleblower

Posted in Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), Whistleblower Retaliation
Employers just got an important reminder that certain actions by putative whistleblowers are still protected even after they no longer work for the company. In Kshetrapal v. Dish Network, LLC, Judge Crotty of the Southern District of New York denied Dish Network’s motion to dismiss a SOX whistleblower claim based not on activities taken by… Continue Reading

Court Finds No Individual Liability Under the False Claims Act’s Retaliation Provision

Posted in False Claims Act (FCA), Whistleblower Retaliation
The tide continues to turn toward courts finding individual supervisors immune from liability under the anti-retaliation provisions of the False Claims Act (FCA). In Lampenfeld v. Pyramid Healthcare, Inc., Judge Brann of the Middle District of Pennsylvania dismissed the plaintiff’s FCA retaliation claim against her supervisor finding that the greater weight of the law held… Continue Reading

New York Attorney General Announces Plans for New State Whistleblower Law

Posted in State Whistleblower Laws, Whistleblower Retaliation
On February 27, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that before the end of the current legislative session in June, he plans to introduce the Financial Frauds Whistleblower Act in the New York State Assembly. The bill would create a new state-level program to reward individuals who report fraud or other financial misconduct… Continue Reading

Tenth Circuit Enforces Whistleblower’s Release of Retaliatory Discharge Claim

Posted in False Claims Act (FCA), Whistleblower Retaliation
The Tenth Circuit recently affirmed the enforceability of releases of retaliation claims under the False Claims Act (FCA). In VanLandingham v. Grand Junction Regional Airport Authority, plaintiff, who was director of security at the Grand Junction, Colorado airport, alleged that she was demoted and ultimately terminated after refusing to comply with her supervisor’s misrepresentation to… Continue Reading

“Watch List”: SEC Argues in 2nd Circuit That Internal Whistleblowers Are Protected Under Dodd-Frank

Posted in Dodd-Frank Act (Dodd-Frank), Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), Whistleblower Retaliation
Late last week the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed an amicus brief urging the Second Circuit to extend protection under the anti-retaliation provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act to individuals who only report complaints internally to their employer, and not to the SEC. If the Second Circuit sides with the SEC and plaintiff in Berman… Continue Reading

“Watch List”: New Jersey Supreme Court to Consider Whether Whistleblower Suit Preempted by LMRA

Posted in State Whistleblower Laws
The New Jersey Supreme Court just granted a petition for certification in a case in which it should decide whether Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA) preempts a claim brought be a putative whistleblower under the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA). The appellate court upheld the trial court’s grant of… Continue Reading

4th Circuit Grants Emotional Distress Damages in SOX Case; Applies Four-Year Statute of Limitations to SOX Claims

Posted in Department of Labor (DOL), Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), Whistleblower Retaliation
The Fourth Circuit just joined two of its sister Circuits and the Administrative Review Board (ARB) of the U.S. Department of Labor in granting emotional distress damages to a SOX whistleblower. In the same case, the Fourth Circuit also applied a four year statute of limitations to bring SOX claims in federal court after exhausting… Continue Reading

“Watch List”: New Jersey Supreme Court Considers Scope of CEPA Protections For “Watchdog” Employees

Posted in State Whistleblower Laws, Whistleblower Retaliation
The New Jersey Supreme Court heard oral argument earlier this week that will likely define the scope of protections for “watchdog” employees under New Jersey’s Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA). In Lippman v. Ethicon, Inc., a New Jersey appellate court overturned a superior court decision granting summary judgment to Ethicon on Lippman’s claim that he… Continue Reading