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Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Protections
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform & Consumer Protection Act includes gold standard whistleblower protections, ensuring greater enforcement of the law. There are four provisions strengthening whistleblower rights.
- In section 1057, whistleblowers and those who refuse to violate the law have gold standard rights, beginning with a Department of Labor investigation and administrative hearing, and a jury trial if there is no final ruling within 210 days. In either context, the case is governed by modern, pro-employee legal burdens of proof for what it takes to win. Along with reinstatement, whistleblowers who prevail can receive back pay, compensatory damages and attorney fees. Companies cannot cancel any free speech or due process rights as a condition of employment.
- In 2002, the landmark Sarbanes-Oxley law for accountability at publicly-traded corporations created a paradigm shift for whistleblowers by giving them access to jury trials in court when they fail to obtain a timely ruling at the Department of Labor. Recent amendments to that law now allow employees 180 days to act on their rights; override mandatory arbitration provisions in employment agreements; bring subsidiaries of parent companies into the law’s coverage; and explicitly provide for jury trials.
- Bounty provisions allow for payments to whistleblowers for disclosures of violations to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) (Section 922), and the Commodities Future Trading Commission (CFTC) (Section 748). Government employees who blow the whistle also may receive awards for SEC disclosures. These incentives are modeled after a similar program at the IRS. GAP warns, however, that the IRS experience has been a mixed success for whistleblowers.
- In addition to rights in section 1057 for challenging violations of the new law, corporate employees who make bounty disclosures either to the CFTC or SEC have access to court to enforce more anti-retaliation rights, but the provisions are far weaker and cruder