In 2011, researchers released the results of a study on nurses who acted as whistleblowers or were bystanders in a whistleblowing incident at work. The alarming reports of depression, distress, panic attacks, anxiety and increased reliance on cigarettes and alcohol, underscores that reporting wrongdoing in the workplace can cause serious emotional distress. Nevertheless, those damages can be difficult to quantify and prove at trial. Two recent cases show that some judges and juries are beginning to understand the toll blowing the whistle can take on employees, but challenges remain.
Supreme Court Ruling A Game-Changer For Whistleblower Protections
The U.S. Supreme Court's decision this week in Digital Realty Trust, Inc. v. Somers shrinks Dodd-Frank's protections against workplace retaliation for corporate whistleblowers.
As part of Outten & Golden's collaboration with Labaton Sucharow on the Corporate Whistleblower Watch newsletter, Sage Counsel is an occasional feature addressing common issues at play in a wide range of whistleblower issues
Erhart v. Botfl Holding, Inc, No. 15 Civ. 02287, 2017 WL. 588390 (SD. Cal. Feb. 14, 2017)
Have you ever interacted with a cashier, gardener, nail salon employee, call center worker, home health aide, parking attendant, or restaurant server? If so, chances are the person who provided you that service was an undocumented worker.
Wells Fargo. Bio-Rad. Volkswagen. Just three examples of corporations that, to their peril, either ignored or actively suppressed employee whistleblowers. They join countless other companies, large and small, that found out the hard way that a head-in-the-sand approach toward whistleblowers is not just unethical, but also poses grave threats to their bottom lines and public reputations.
Last month, a federal jury in San Francisco awarded $8 million to a former general counsel for life sciences company Bio-Rad who was terminated after raising concerns about possible foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) violations by his employer. The verdict sent shockwaves through the legal community as it redefines the boundaries of general counsel privilege, and may spur others to act as whistleblowers themselves.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently issued final "Enforcement Guidance on Retaliation and Related Issues" ("Guidance") which details how the federal agency will enforce anti-retaliation laws. This Guidance is the first major update to EEOC enforcement policy on retaliation in nearly 20 years, and reflects changes in employment law over the last two decades, particularly several landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions. The updated Guidance also adds specific language regarding retaliatory actions under the Americans with Disabilities Act.