Financial whistleblowers are on the front lines in protecting Americans against rampant corporate greed and the next financial downturn. Insiders are often the only individuals who have the knowledge to prove corrupt acts are occurring – acts that threaten the public welfare.
To help educate financial industry workers on whistleblower protections that apply to them directly, GAP and other groups have started a Know Your Rights campaign to spread the word.
13 Essential Survival Tips
As the nation's leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization, and from our experience in protecting whistleblowers for over 35 years, GAP has heard about and counseled whistleblowers on all imaginable types of retaliation. We know that whistleblowing is a difficult and life-changing event. In addition to risking professional suicide, whistleblowers can suffer personally.
That's why GAP never solicits whistleblowing – we inform whistleblowers what their rights are, and in personal communications (if clients), what we believe they can achieve by coming forward. We also detail what they can expect in terms of retaliation.
But for those individuals out there who are merely entertaining the idea of becoming a whistleblower, there are essential survival tips you should know about. These have been honed and crafted with our years of experience – particularly that of GAP Legal Director Tom Devine, who came to GAP in 1978, and has assisted over 5,000 whistleblowers since that time.
Please note: these 13 Essential Survival Tips are detailed in full in Devine's book, The Corporate Whistleblower's Survival Guide.
Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Protections
Several federal whistleblower protection laws apply to financial industry whistleblowers. One of the most prominent is the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. Just a few of the protections that this groundbreaking law offers whistleblowers include:
- Allowing whistleblowers to report wrongdoing directly to the SEC – not requiring employees to first approach their own corrupt companies.
- Making illegal any action taken by employers against employees in retaliation for approaching the SEC or in working with investigators.
- Providing protections for employees who disclose wrongdoing at subsidiaries, not just publically traded parent companies.
- Implementing a reward program for individuals whose original evidence leads to successful enforcement action by the SEC yielding monetary sanctions of over $1 million.
To find out more about the whistleblower protections of this law, click here.
Sarbanes-Oxley Whistleblower Protections
In 2002, after the colossal failures of both Enron and WorldCom, Congress decided to take action to restore faith in the economy. The result was the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX), which, logically, included whistleblower protections for corporate workers.
Specifically, whistleblowers who are employees of publicly-traded companies are covered by these landmark protections, if they are retaliated against for reporting other violations under SOX.
For a detailed explanation of the SOX whistleblower provisions, taken directly from The Corporate Whistleblower's Survival Guide, please click here.
GAP Report Educates Whistleblowers & Lawyers about Cases Involving both Employment Protections and Bounty Rewards
Since the economic collapse began in 2008, GAP has received an influx of banking and financial institution whistleblowers' requests for assistance – including from employees working for contractors providing compliance services. Allegations include bank officials repeatedly making misleading statements to regulators, reporters and the public at large. Potentially worse, whistleblowers supervising third-party (supposedly independent) remediation efforts at these institutions have stated that many of these programs are operating in bad faith.
Banking Sector Accountability: Understanding and Handling the Complex 'SOX Plus One' Whistleblower Claim, a new "best practices" report released by GAP and authored by GAP contract attorneys Thad Guyer and Melissa Koven, aims to inform legal counsel for whistleblowers about how to navigate these types of future claims – not only under protection laws, but also under federal statutes that can provide financial rewards to clients. The report is supplemented with practical PowerPoint slides.
A term in the report's title, "SOX Plus One," refers to a whistleblower who not only seeks a remedy under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act for employment retaliation, but also any financial reward that may be available under a federal statute. These include, as detailed at length in the report, the SEC bounty provisions contained within the Dodd-Frank Act; the federal False Claims Act; the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989; and the Financial Institutions Anti-Fraud Enforcement Act of 1990. A central aim of the paper and corresponding slides is to educate whistleblowers and their lawyers to analyze, at the earliest stages, both the employment protections and bounty rewards which may be involved in these financial sector cases.
Filing a Complaint with the DOL
If you believe you were discriminated against for whistleblowing in violation of either the Sarbanes Oxley Act (SOX) or the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act, you should consider filing a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) within the US Department of Labor.
The Corporate Whistleblower's Survival Guide
In 2011, GAP proudly announced the release of the single most comprehensive publication ever created about corporate whistleblowing, The Corporate Whistleblower's Survival Guide. Published by Berrett-Koehler, this step-by-step guide details key information that potential business whistleblowers should know before, during, and after blowing the whistle. GAP Legal Director Tom Devine and former GAP investigator Tarek F. Maassarani, co-authors of the book, summarize a decade-long under-the-radar legal revolution in corporate worker free speech rights.
GAP is currently working to spread the word about these rights among bank and financial institution whistleblowers. This is being done primarily through a flyer/leafleting effort to our members and any groups that want to help. If you would like to see the materials or download them for distribution, click below! Please note that the files are two-sided, so be sure to select two-sided printing.
A Financial Whistleblower Who Has Made a Difference
Richard Bowen worked for a major New York bank. The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC) – charged with investigating the causes of the recession – requested his testimony because of his expertise and experiences. Apparently, however, Bowen told the Commission more than it wanted to hear. His interview with FCIC attorneys was placed under seal and sent to the National Archives for five years. Bowen’s story has since aired on 60 Minutes.