Protections for SEC Whistleblowers

The SEC’s Whistleblower Program was designed to incentivize whistleblowers to come forward without the risk of retaliation from their employers. The program contains strong anti-retaliation provisions to protect whistleblowers who provide information to the SEC or CFTC or assist in any investigation or legal action of the SEC or CFTC related to such information.

There are three primary forms of whistleblower protection available under the SEC Whistleblower Program: anonymity, confidentiality and anti-retaliation.  Since the program was adopted, these three forms of whistleblower protection have been enforced, and the SEC takes each of them seriously.

Anonymity

The SEC Whistleblower Program permits and encourages whistleblowers who wish to report anonymously. However, in order to remain eligible for a potential award under the program while maintaining anonymity, the whistleblower must retain an experienced SEC whistleblower attorney.  The whistleblower’s attorney will be responsible for filing the whistleblower complaint on behalf of the whistleblower. That attorney will also communicate with the SEC on behalf of the whistleblower.

Confidentiality

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the “Dodd-Frank Act”) contains one of the strongest confidentiality provisions for whistleblowers.  Under the Act, the SEC is prohibited from disclosing “any information, including information provided by a whistleblower to the Commission, which could reasonably be expected to reveal the identity of a whistleblower,” unless and until the information is required to be disclosed in a proceeding instituted by the government.

Anti-Retaliation Protections

The Dodd-Frank Act contains an essential provision protecting SEC whistleblowers from retaliation by providing a cause of action against an employer who terminates, demotes, suspends, threatens or otherwise retaliates against a whistleblower who provides information to the SEC. Whistleblowers who suffer from employment retaliation may sue for reinstatement, back pay and special damages, including litigation costs.

The Anti-retaliation protections continue to be a critical component in the success of the SEC Whistleblower Program. In the SEC’s Annual Report to Congress in 2018, the Chief of the Whistleblower Office emphasized that supporting enforcement actions against companies and individuals who retaliate against whistleblowers or take actions to impede whistleblowers’ communications with the SEC would remain a focus of the agency.

If you choose to blow the whistle on violations of the federal securities laws, the attorneys at Bernstein Liebhard will help you navigate the SEC Whistleblower Program to ensure that you comply with the program’s requirements and avail yourself of the program’s protections. Bernstein Liebhard LLP has litigated some of the largest securities fraud class actions since the passage of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and our SEC Whistleblower attorneys have substantial experience fighting securities fraud.  We are dedicated to providing experienced, dedicated, and aggressive representation for whistleblowers looking to report violations of the federal securities laws to the SEC. Contact Michael S. Bigin or Laurence J. Hasson for more information.