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Changes to whistleblower protection could be on the horizon

If you notice something suspicious at work, you probably don’t make a beeline to federal agents. You would most likely start by notifying the leadership within your company so they can investigate themselves and solve the issue. This was the decision of one worker who ultimately lost his job after he warned company managers about his supervisor before he reported it to the government.

This worker, who is now in a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit, could transform the way that employees report allegations of illegal activity.

This court case revolves around the wording in the Dodd-Frank act. The company claims that the worker does not have retaliation protection because the act requires him to report violations to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to trigger this legal shield. By keeping the allegations internal, the worker might not even count as a whistleblower. Because he did not contact the SEC, the company believes they were legally able to fire him.

On the other hand, the worker claims that reporting allegations to the company’s authorities has the same power as reaching out to the SEC. This would mean, by extension, that any worker who reports to their employer would count as a whistleblower and would therefore have Dodd-Frank protections.

A clear interpretation of the law could affect how whistleblowers report. If the court rules in favor of the company, employees could be discouraged from communicating with company managers. They would likely head straight to the government, leaving businesses without an opportunity to solve the issue on their own. If this ex-employee wins the retaliation lawsuit, employers will have to follow whistleblower protection laws even if the employee doesn’t tell the SEC.

Any employee who is afraid of losing their job after reporting allegations should contact a highly experienced attorney. A lawyer will help protect your rights under the Dodd-Frank act, even in light of the upcoming ruling.

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If you or your company is under investigation, charged or indicted for federal or state crimes, or you want to ensure future compliance, contact Hilder & Associates, P.C., for more information or to schedule an appointment with an experienced Houston white collar criminal defense lawyer.

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