It can be stressful to know whether you should report your employer's misconduct or fraud to the authorities. You may feel that your job is on the line. Retaliation is prohibited under several different whistleblower statutes. This means that your employer should not take an adverse action against you for whistleblowing. However, internal complaints alone do not always receive the same level of protection under these anti-retaliation provisions as reporting misconduct to another authority, such as the SEC. Each whistleblower statute has different rules regarding whether internal complaints of misconduct or fraud at your place of work constitute protected activity. The experienced New York City whistleblower attorneys at Phillips & Associates may be able to represent you and guide you through the process of whistleblowing and any subsequent retaliation.Internal Complaints Under Dodd-Frank
The Supreme Court has ruled that the Dodd-Frank Act anti-retaliation provisions do not protect someone who has not reported a violation of securities laws to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In that case, a vice-president of a real estate investment company believed that the company was violating securities laws by concealing millions in cost overruns, and he told senior managers but did not let the SEC know. He was fired and then sued for retaliation. The court explained that Dodd-Frank defines a whistleblower as somebody who gives original information about securities law violations to the SEC. The SEC had rules that allowed for internal whistleblowers, but the Supreme Court did not defer to those rules because the statute was not ambiguous in that regard. You will not receive the anti-retaliation protection if you only made an internal complaint.Internal Complaints Under Sarbanes-Oxley
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 ("SOX") protects corporate whistleblowers of publicly traded companies. The law requires all publicly traded corporations to develop internal audit committees that function independently. In order to follow Sarbanes-Oxley with regard to the purpose of these committees, publicly traded corporations are supposed to put in place procedures for employees to register internal whistleblower complaints, as well as a process that protects employee confidentiality when they complain to the audit committee. You can and should make internal complaints under Sarbanes-Oxley, but it can still be helpful to consult an experienced attorney. However, you also receive protection for providing truthful information to law enforcement officers about the possible commission of a federal crime.Internal Complaints Under the False Claims Act
Prior to a 2009 amendment, the False Claims Act (FCA) only protected lawful acts performed by an employee on behalf of the employee to further a qui tam action. This included investigating, initiating, testifying, or assisting in a qui tam action. However, the FCA now protects any lawful acts done by an employee, agent, contractor, or associated others to further a qui tam action. Case law has shown that courts give wide latitude when interpreting protected activity under the amendment. For example, the FCA would protect you if you made an internal report of fraudulent activity to your supervisor. It would also protect you if you filed an internal complaint with management about concerns that you have about fraud at a lower level, since you took those steps to remedy fraudulent activity or were trying to figure out whether you had an actual qui tam action. Courts have required employees to have a subjectively and objectively reasonable belief that their employer engaged in fraud against the government in making the internal complaint or filing the qui tam action.Hire a Skillful New York City Attorney for Your Whistleblower Claim
An experienced whistleblower attorney can ensure that you follow the proper procedures in case you need to blow the whistle on your employer and in case you have been subjected to retaliation. If you are concerned about making an internal complaint about a New York City employer that you believe has committed misconduct, fraud, or another legal violation, you should consult an experienced employment lawyer. Contact Phillips & Associates at (212) 248-7431 or through our online form for a free consultation. We handle employment litigation in the boroughs of the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan; the counties of Westchester, Nassau, and Suffolk; as well as New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.
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