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U.S. Supreme Court considers definition of whistleblower

The integrity of a California employee may be challenged when the worker discovers his or her employer is violating federal securities laws through fraud, insider trading or other deceptive practices. The ethical obligation to report the violation may conflict with the employee's fear of workplace retaliation. Fortunately, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act provides workers with incentive to report. Recently, however, there are questions about how the law should be interpreted.

The Whistleblower Program provides awards to workers who report about securities violations within the workplace. The awards may be quite generous depending on the circumstances surrounding the violation. More importantly, the law provides protection against retaliation for whistleblowers. However, recent lawsuits question whether employees must make their reports to the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission in order to be eligible for such protections.

The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether an appeals court is correct in its ruling that employees qualify under the Whistleblower Program despite never having reported violations to the SEC. Some employers feel that the ruling will drastically increase the number of employees seeking the benefits of the law as well as the number of retaliation lawsuits. Others feel that by requiring employees to report to the SEC, the ruling will deny employers the chance to remedy any violations before federal involvement.

Upholding fair and legal activities within the workplace is not always easy. However, every employee has the right to a safe work environment free from harassment or retaliation. Those in California who feel their employer or co-workers are retaliating because of whistleblowing actions may seek legal guidance from a committed and experienced attorney.

Source: hrdive.com, "Which employees get securities whistleblower protection? Supreme Court to resolve disagreement", Kate Tornone, July 11, 2017

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