Over the past few decades, government regulators have begun to keep a much closer eye on the conduct of those in charge at large corporations. However, regulators may not be privy to all the inner-workings of a corporation, and given the number of corporations and lack of available resources to ferret out the wrongdoers, corporate misconduct flew under the radar for years. More recently, however, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) started the SEC whistleblower program, which relies on employee whistleblowers to report violations of U.S. securities laws.
Under the SEC whistleblower program, an employee who voluntarily reports information that assists the SEC in recovering amounts of more than $1 million is eligible for a financial award. The amount of the award ranges between 10% to 30% of the monetary sanctions collected by the government. These funds are paid out of a separate fund called the Investor Protection Fund, rather than with company proceeds.
To be eligible for a reward through the SEC Whistleblower program, a reporting employee must be able to show the following:
- The information provided relates to a violation of U.S. securities law or relates to the bribery of a foreign official;
- The information was provided voluntarily, and not in response to questioning or an investigation;
- The information was based on personal knowledge, and not publicly available records; and
- The information must result in a new investigation or significantly contribute to an existing investigation.
Employees who have information that may be the basis for a claim may report it to the corporation in hopes the corporation self-reports. Alternatively, the employee can provide the information directly to the SEC. While the SEC may increase a reporting employee’s award for first reporting the information to the company, an employee’s reward will be decreased if the employee is found to have interfered with the company’s internal investigation or participated in the fraud or misconduct. However, an employee who played a role in the misconduct may not be categorically barred from obtaining a reward.
Of course, as is the case with all whistleblower programs, employees who report a claim under the SEC Whistleblower Program cannot be retaliated against based on their reporting of the information.
Are You Experiencing Retaliation for Reporting a Company Violation?
If you believe you are currently being retaliated against because you uncovered or reported an employer’s misconduct, contact the employment attorneys at the Dallas law firm of Rob Wiley, P.C. We represent employees across Texas in all types of employment matters, including cases involving retaliation against employees who blew the whistle on their employer’s misconduct. To learn more, and to speak with an experienced Texas employment lawyer about your situation, call 214-528-6500.
More Blog Posts:
What Is First Amendment Retaliation and How Can an Employee Bring a Claim of Retaliation?, Dallas Employment Lawyer Blog, January 10, 2019.
Are All Texas Employment Contracts Enforceable?, Dallas Employment Lawyer Blog, January 17, 2019.