Dodd Frank Whistleblower
In the wake of the financial crisis of 2008, the government under President Obama has put in place an act that is known as the Dodd Frank Reform Act. It imposes powerful restrictions on the banking sector which now means that the government has control of the reigns of financial control These are the most comprehensive laws to be passed of this type since the great depression of the 1930's, and include whistleblower rules with some extremely powerful financial incentives.
Rewarding Whistleblowers- Qui Tam Laws under Dodd Frank
Under the legislation of the 'Qui Tam' laws it states that anybody can file a lawsuit on behalf of the government and when they do, and are successful in proving it, then the plaintiff can receive a share in the amount of the recovery as a reward. The Dodd Frank whistleblower rules are in fact a 'do tell' type of policy and the reward can in fact be somewhere between 10% and 30% of the money (provided that the amount is over $1 million). You don't need to be a mathematician to work out that that could equate to an awful lot of money. Probably the most controversial aspect of all is that the Dodd Frank whistleblower is permitted to bypass the usual chain of command within the organization and take their complaint straight to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) where they can then voice their concerns.
The easiest way to know if you might have a case is to talk to an experienced whistleblower lawyer. These cases are both complex and costly, so whistleblowers will need representation. You can call us at 1-888-204-1014 for a free and confidential consultation. We’ll let you know our experience and whether or not we think you have a case.
Who is a Whistleblower?
Under the Dodd Frank Act, a whistleblower is defined as an individual who provides the SEC with information that demonstrates the violation of any governmental security statutes. This can also apply to any violation that hasn't yet taken place, but is about to, or is currently on going. Providing the whistleblower has some solid ground for their actions, they are protected under the normal whistleblowing provisions which means that any employer retaliation such as suspension, termination, demotion, harassment, discrimination or threatening behavior is breaking the law. This applies to all Dodd Frank whistleblowers, and is irrespective of whether they are correct in their assumptions and receive the reward or not.
How will a company treat a whistleblower under Dodd Frank Whistleblower Provisions?
If you are a whistleblower who has filed a lawsuit or sent an email directly to the SEC for something that may have been going on within your organization, there are several things that your company may do. Of course an experienced whistleblower attorney will be able to help you navigate through this difficult time. The following are some paths your company might take:
Deciding on protected activity
Even if the company is unsure as to whether there is any truth in you are saying, it is still advisable for them to always err on the side of caution. They may assume that you the whistleblower is correct until proven otherwise and that any retaliation would be a complete violation of the law.
Spreading the word vs. keeping it quiet
It is possible that your company will make all departments aware that there is a whistleblower and to divulge their identity. In this case they would inform everyone in the chain of command from the employee's supervisor, to human resources to management and upwards. The simple reason for this is to make sure that all parties concerned are fully aware of the protective laws and that nobody violates them. They may also mention to their teams that the matter is not to be discussed either orally or in writing with the Dodd Frank whistleblower and that no other action should be taken by any party without discussing it first.
In contrast, some companies operate on a 'need to know' basis. This is on the grounds that if a supervisor doesn't know that one of their employees is indeed a whistleblower, then they cannot exact any retaliation or treat them any differently than normal. However this can be a dangerous game because if retaliation is taken, then it can be very difficult to prove that any particular person within the chain of command truly 'didn't' know that the employee was indeed a whistleblower. On top of this, it’s possible that a supervisor in question may find out indirectly and then exact their own retaliatory action which contradicts company policy. Clearly each situation is different; however one would suggest that it is probably better to take proactive steps to make sure that no retaliation happens.
Speaking with the whistleblower
It will likely be important for them to make contact with the whistleblower as soon as possible after the event. The reason for this is that it is always best to remain amicable. The company would want to assure them that no retaliation will take place and that they are glad that they bought the problem to the attention of the company. Also it is prudent to give the whistleblower a point of contact should they have any concerns or questions about the case. Caution is key here because if the whistleblower believes that they are being disregarded or that their complaint isn't being taken seriously enough then they are just as likely to complain to the SEC about retaliation.
Even during and after the event it will likely be important to the company to keep communication channels open. Whistleblower rules state that if an employee is treated differently in any way that could be deemed as being related to the event, then they will have grounds for recourse. It also tells the whistleblower that their company takes anti-retaliation policies very seriously indeed.
No Retaliatory Behavior
If your company hears of any behavior that smacks of retaliation towards a whistleblower then it needs to be dealt with quickly. It is usually best to advise the employee that the situation has been resolved and that it will not happen again. It may mean that they have to transfer a supervisor out of the whistleblower's department in order to resolve the situation. Bear in mind that if a company is thinking of transferring the whistleblower from the department, then they run the risk of the person thinking that they are being victimized.Dodd Frank Whistleblower Articles