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Newly Interpreted Whistleblower Protections Explained

C_Silhan_100_thumbOn August 4th, the Securities and Exchange Commission issued an interpretive rule to clarify that the Commission’s whistleblower rules protect whistleblowers who report potential securities violations within the company, as well as those who report directly to the Commission, from retaliation.

The SEC’s whistleblower rules incentivize whistleblowers to bring original information about securities law violations to the Commission, and offer eligible whistleblowers an award for doing so. The rules also protect whistleblowers from employment retaliation based on the whistleblower’s “disclosures that are required or protected” under the laws, rules, or regulations subject to the SEC’s jurisdiction. On August 4th, the Commission clarified that for purposes of the retaliation protections under the whistleblower rules, the whistleblower need not report suspected securities law violations to the Commission; instead, they apply as follows:

  1. To employees of publicly-traded companies that provide information to a federal regulatory or law enforcement agency, Congress, or to certain higher-ups within the company; or who assists in a proceeding concerning securities fraud; or
  2. To individuals who provide information to the Commission directly pursuant to the Commission’s whistleblower rules.

In other words, whistleblowers must report directly to the Commission in order to be eligible for an award, and these whistleblowers are also protected from retaliation by the Commission’s whistleblower rules. Whistleblowers who only report violations internally are not eligible for an award based on the Commission’s recovery in an action related to the whistleblower’s complaint, but are nevertheless protected from retaliation by their publicly-traded employer.

Waters Kraus & Paul has experience representing whistleblowers in SEC violations cases. If you know of fraudulent or deceptive practices in violation of the securities law taking place, contact us or call our qui tam attorneys at 800.226.9880 to learn more about our practice and how we can work together to report fraudulent abuses.

This article was contributed by Caitlyn Silhan one of the qui tam attorneys in the firm’s Dallas office.

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