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Whistleblower protection expanded by 9th Circuit

The Dodd-Frank Act regulates the activities of banks in New York and around the country. The law also protects employees who report securities violations to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Now, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has expanded the whistleblower protections to include employees who complain internally but who do not make formal reports to the SEC.

Under the Dodd-Frank Act, employers may not discriminate against, harass, threaten or take adverse employment actions against workers who report violations of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act or other rules and regulations that are governed by the SEC. When an employer violates the law and retaliates against a whistleblower, employees are allowed to sue for reinstatement, their legal costs and attorney fees and two times their back pay with interest.

The 9th Circuit's decision extends that protection to workers who make internal complaints about violations of the law but who do not file formal reports with the SEC. There is a split among the federal circuits about whether the protections of Dodd-Frank against whistleblower retaliation extends to workers who make internal complaints only with some courts holding that they do not.

Whistleblowers who have experienced retaliation from their employers may benefit by speaking to experienced employment law attorneys who may evaluate the facts in order to determine if prohibited retaliation happened. They may then offer honest assessments about the winnability of the claims. If they accept representation, they may help their clients file complaints with the appropriate agency. They may also draft and file retaliation lawsuits against the employers in state or federal court. Attorneys may work to meet the required statutory deadlines so that their clients do not lose their ability to assert their rights to the recovery of damages for the losses that they incurred.

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