The 2010 Dodd-Frank legislation that materially revamped securities law — especially whistleblowers’ role in reporting it and sharing in recoveries — has always been a lightning rod for contention and debate. As we noted in our February 26 blog entry, the legislation “continues to incite passions and commentary even today.”
How wide is the law’s application? Who can be officially deemed as a Dodd-Frank whistleblower? What can a whistleblower do if retaliated against by an irate employer? Are Dodd-Frank protections in such an event adequate against blowback? How much can an individual recover if the government picks up a case and secures a money judgment?
Those questions and more routinely surface regarding Dodd-Frank. And, indeed, we addressed and responded to several of them in our above-cited blog post.
Here’s another, which the U.S. Supreme recently entertained: Is there a stated reporting process applicable to Dodd-Frank whistleblowers and, if so, must it be scrupulously followed to benefit from the legislation’s protections?
The answer to that, noted the court last week in a unanimous ruling, is “unequivocal,” to wit: All Dodd-Frank whistleblower reports must be made directly to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and no other body (no alternative agency, no internal alert to company management, no contacts to legislators and so forth). If the SEC is not the primary contact, Dodd-Frank safeguards are out the window.
That question has loomed large for years, including at the SEC, despite what the court noted last week is an altogether easy call.
The bottom line: If you are a whistleblower and seek to proceed under Dodd-Frank, bring your claim of wrongdoing directly to the SEC.