On July 15th, Congress passed the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act – H.R. 4173 – which provided a number of additional protections for whistleblowers, including a qui tam provision that rewards whistleblowers monetarily for alerting authorities to fraud in the stock and commodities industries. The Act also strengthened anti-retaliatory measures for workers who reveal fraud to commodities agencies and/or the SEC and who give info to the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (a new organization established by the law).
Prior the passage of H.R. 4173, whistleblowers at rating organizations like Standard & Poor’s lacked effective protection. The bill fixes the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) to close loopholes, so that employees even at rating agencies can feel free to come forward with allegations of fraud or misconduct. The Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center, Stephen Kohn, sung praises of the legislation. According to an official PR statement, Kohn said that “[H.R.4173] is one of the most important advances in whistleblower legislation to date…the anti-retaliation laws of the past have not adequately protected the public interest because employees remain afraid to make disclosures.”
Kohn also noted that the whistleblower system must have built-in incentives; otherwise, employees might be tempted to allow fraud to go unchecked because it would not be in their financial interest to come forward. While whistleblower advocates generally celebrated this bill, others in the community want further action to protect federal employees, so that they too can feel freer to come forward and expose fraud and corruption and bad practices.
If you or someone you love has witnessed fraud, corruption, or unfair practices, and you are considering blowing the whistle, you are perhaps wrestling with the issue. You may be confused, afraid, and more than a little overwhelmed by what blowing that whistle might mean for your career and legacy, and even what the legal implications might be for you.
To get a free and confidential consultation with the Joseph & Kirschenbaum team, call (212) 688-5640 or visit the firm on the web at www.jhllp.com. It takes courage, a strong backbone, and a deep sense of ethics to go through with the whistleblowing process. But if you expose fraud and corruption, you can significantly change peoples’ lives for the better. Joseph & Kirschenbaum attorneys can also talk to you if you have questions regarding harassment, employment discrimination, or retaliation.