Morgan & Morgan
Along with the anonymity provisions afforded a whistleblower, the second real protection codified in the SEC whistleblower laws is the creation of a private cause of action against the corporation if it retaliates against an employee whistleblower.
The SEC whistleblower protection provision prohibits employers from discharging, demoting, suspending, threatening, harassing or otherwise discriminating against a whistleblower in the terms and conditions of employment because of any lawful act by the whistleblower either in reporting, or participating in the investigation or prosecution of violations of the securities laws, including disclosures that are required or protected under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX).
Under many whistleblower protection laws, a whistleblower must “exhaust administrative” remedies. So for example, a whistleblower may have to file an administrative complaint with a federal or state agency before the whistleblower can sue in court. This requirement is specifically excluded under the SEC Whistleblower Program. So a whistleblower can file a lawsuit against his employer in federal court immediately.
A whistleblower has up to six years after the retaliatory conduct (or three years after the whistleblower learns of the retaliatory conduct) to file a lawsuit against its employer under the SEC Whistleblower Protection Program. A whistleblower, for comparison, has a 180-day statue of limitations for filing a SOX whistleblower claims (which is lengthened to 180 days in the Dodd-Frank Act). This lengthened statute of limitation can afford a whistleblower real and meaningful protection as it now allows a terminated whistleblower time to find a new job before bringing a public claim.
What are the penalties should you bring a SEC whistleblower protection claim against your employer. The relief specifically laid out in the statute includes reinstatement, double back pay with interest, and compensation for litigation costs, expert witness fees and reasonable attorneys' fees.
Additionally, Anonymity Provisions allow a whistleblower to comfortably consult a whistleblower lawyer without their employer knowing who is filing the lawsuit.