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Strengthening Financial Whistleblower Protections
GAP, noted law firm Labaton Sucharow and scores of other prominent organizations are seeking to improve the current situation for financial whistleblowers and put an end to problematic corporate practices aimed at wrongfully suppressing whistleblower concerns. On July 21, 2014, GAP and Labaton Sucharow announced their filing of a petition for rulemaking with the SEC that would clarify and strengthen certain aspects of the agency's Whistleblower Program.
Given the horrific results of the financial crisis of 2008, it is essential that Wall Street workers – those who have firsthand knowledge of complex wrongdoing that can damage our economy – feel empowered to raise concerns. It is the duty of all citizens to sound the alarm whenever actions threaten the national and world marketplaces.
To this end, action was taken by Congress to strengthen financial worker whistleblower protections as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. This was a vital step toward achieving accountability at major financial institutions that many have deemed "too big to fail." The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was emboldened by many aspects of the law, which better incentivizes whistleblowers to reveal criminal behavior to the agency. But there is more work to be done.
Petition for Rulemaking
The petition, from GAP and Labaton, addresses unscrupulous legal maneuvers employed by many companies trying to silence potential whistleblowers. These include preventing employees from consulting independent legal counsel through the use of non-disclosure agreements, which require notice of external reporting, demand waivers of any future whistleblower awards, and threaten lawsuits to enforce secrecy agreements.
These troubling legal tactics effectively topple each of the three pillars of the SEC Whistleblower Program – anonymous reporting, employment protections and monetary awards. This petition provides companies with clear guidance regarding these problematic employment agreements. The petition also urges the SEC to issue a policy statement regarding the current scope of employment protections available to SEC whistleblowers and the intent to prosecute companies that retaliate against them.
Broad Campaign Support
The campaign to strengthen SEC financial whistleblower protections has received sweeping support from a broad ideological spectrum, ranging from Americans for Financial Reform to taxpayer protection groups and notable law firms. More than 50 organizations and companies, representing nearly two million citizens and 250 groups, have sent a letter to the SEC that trumpets the call to strengthen its Whistleblower Program. The letter asks the SEC to:
- engage in appropriate rulemaking to clarify and strengthen whistleblower protections;
- launch of series of public hearings to discuss the problem of workplace retaliation and ways to increase reporting;
- and create an Advisory Committee on Whistleblower Reporting and Protection.
Click here to join our MoveOn petition to the SEC.
Our coalition partner, The Other 98% has launched a companion action that has received more than 14,000 signatures in support of the campaign!
A full list of participating organizations can be found below.
National Whistleblower Appreciation Day Panel Event
The campaign will be highlighted on July 30, National Whistleblower Appreciation Day, through a panel session to be held on Capitol Hill:
Strengthening Anti-Reprisal Rights under the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform
3:15 pm – 4:15 pm, Stewart R. Mott Foundation, 122 Maryland Ave NE
Description: The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act established the SEC Whistleblower Program. Since its inception in 2010, the program has recovered over $550 million based on whistleblower tips, and whistleblowers enjoy access to an SEC bounty program. However, its anti-reprisal rights are in need of an upgrade. This panel will examine appropriate rule-making for the SEC to clarify and strengthen protections available to those who report misconduct internally or externally. Otherwise, a hostile work environment – rampant with fear of retaliation – could lead future potential whistleblowers to keep quiet and allow fraud continue or intensify.
Featured speakers include (pictured left to right):
- Lisa Donner Americans for Financial Reform
- Eric Ben-Artzi, Deutsche Bank financial whistleblower
- Jordan Thomas, Labaton Sucharow
- Jason Zuckerman (Moderator), Zuckerman Law
To join the campaign to strengthen the SEC Whistleblower Program, contact GAP Legislative Director Shanna Devine at 202.457.0034, ext 132 or firstname.lastname@example.org
American Association of Small Property Owners
Americans for Financial Reform (coalition of 200+ organizations)
Atlantic States Legal Foundation
Bernabei & Wachtel, PLLC
Circumpolar Conservation Union
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington
The Coalition For Change, Inc.
Corporate Action Network
Defending Dissent Foundation
Employment Justice Center
Evangelicals for Social Action
Evans Law Firm, Inc.
Faculty Against Rape
Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics
Government Accountability Project
Heart of America Northwest
Implode-Explode Heavy Industries, Inc.
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
International Association of Whistleblowers
International Brotherhood of Teamsters
Investor Environmental Health Network
Kentucky Resources Council, Inc.
Lower Ninth Ward Living Museum
The Multiracial Activist
National Coalition of Organized Women
National Consumers League
National Employment Lawyers Association
National Organization for Women
National Whistleblower Center
New Jersey Citizen Action
New Jersey Work Environment Council
New Orleans Women's Shelter
The Other 98%
Peace Fund and Peace Action Education Fund
Pentecostals and Charismatics for Peace and Justice
Project On Government Oversight
Public Concern at Work
Sustainable Energy and Economy Network
Taxpayers Protection Alliance
West Virginia Citizen Action Group
Wild Earth Guardians