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Weekly Update Newsletter - April 2015 #4

GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS - DoD Published Competition Report for 2nd Quarter of FY 2015 - The Department of Defense (DoD) issued the Competition Report for the 2nd quarter for fiscal year 2015. The report identifies...more

OFCCP Drops the Annual Veterans Hiring Benchmark to 7 Percent

On April 21, 2015, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) announced that it had updated the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) Benchmark Database on its website. The VEVRAA...more

SEC Announces Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Award for Compliance Professional

On Wednesday, April 22nd, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced that it had awarded approximately $1.5 million to a whistleblower who had served as a compliance officer of the company about which he blew the...more

SEC Awards Compliance Officer Whistleblower Bounty of Approximately $1.5 Million

Wednesday, the SEC announced that it would pay an unidentified compliance officer a whistleblower bounty award of between $1.4 and $1.6 million. This is the second award that the SEC has made to a whistleblower with internal...more

Can You Keep a Secret? The SEC Says to Ask Carefully

Employers have a lot to be worried about. Employees are given access to trade secrets, customer lists, financial accounts, and other highly sensitive, confidential information. Most employers attempt to deter improper use of...more

SEC Takes Aggressive Approach to Fortify Dodd-Frank’s Whistleblower Rules

On April 1, 2015, the Securities & Exchange Commission (the “SEC” or “Commission”) fined a public company $130,000 for requiring employees involved in internal investigations to sign a confidentiality agreement that the...more

SEC Applies Whistleblower Protections to Confidentiality Arrangements

Public companies should review their confidentiality arrangements for any provisions that may result in unintended violations of the Dodd-Frank Act’s whistleblower protections....more

EEOC Consent Decrees are its Most Powerful Enforcement Mechanisms

The vast majority of settlements between an employer and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) take the form of a court-approved consent decree. This document is a public record designed to highlight and...more

SEC Targets Confidentiality Agreements That Stifle Whistle-Blowing

On April 1, 2015, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced its first enforcement action and settlement against a company for violations of the whistleblower protection provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act...more

SEC Assault on Employee Confidentiality Agreements

The Securities and Exchange Commission recently announced an enforcement action against KBR, Inc., alleging that a form of confidentiality agreement used in internal investigations violated an SEC whistleblower rule. To...more

The SEC Joins the NLRB and EEOC in the Assault on Employee Confidentiality Agreements and Policies in Workplace Investigations

On April 1, 2015, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced its first settlement of a whistleblower enforcement action against a company for using confidentiality agreements to stifle the...more

In-House Counsel Risk SEC Enforcement for Some Confidentiality Agreements - Following Best Practices as Part of a Comprehensive...

Confidentiality agreements are boilerplate in many legal departments, but they shouldn't be. In-house counsel need to review all currently effective confidentiality agreements with anyone who could potentially be a...more

SEC Says Employer's Confidentiality Agreement Violates Dodd-Frank

Employers paying severance to separated employees usually require written release agreements that include a confidentiality provision. The employee is prohibited from disclosing the existence of the agreement, or from...more

Three Thoughts about the SEC’s First “Pretaliation” Case

I was on a flight last Wednesday when the SEC released the first of what whistleblower chief Sean McKessy has dubbed “pretaliation” cases against KBR, Inc. When I landed I had several emails from colleagues, asking, “Did you...more

Increased Governmental Scrutiny for Employee Confidentiality Restrictions

Employers should be aware of recent federal agency activity that may require modifications to employee confidentiality agreements. The federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a press release on April 1, 2015,...more

Employer’s confidentiality agreement triggers SEC action and penalty - review and revise agreements now

Consistent with its prior announcements that it will protect and encourage whistleblowers, the SEC recently announced its “first enforcement action” against a company for using allegedly restrictive language in an agreement...more

The SEC is Taking a Closer Look at Confidentiality Agreements to Ensure Potential Whistleblowers Not Restrained

The Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced on April 1, 2015 that it was instituting enforcement proceedings relating to the whistleblower provisions of the 2010 Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer...more

Locke Lord QuickStudy: SEC Sends Clear Message - Companies Cannot Restrict Whistleblowers Via Employee Confidentiality Agreements

On April 1, 2015, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced its first enforcement action against a company for using improperly restrictive language in employee confidentiality agreements, noting that such limits...more

Is Your Confidentiality Agreement a Ticking Time Bomb? SEC’s First Action Over Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Protections Targets...

For the first time in the nearly five years since Dodd-Frank went into effect, the SEC last week took action against a company over concerns that the company was preventing its employees from potentially blowing the whistle...more

Carefully Draft NDAs to Avoid Whistleblower Concerns

In light of the SEC’s first enforcement action against a company for impeding whistleblower activity in violation of Rule 21F-17, employers may wish to consider clarifying in their agreements, policies and practices that...more

Do Your Confidentiality and Employment Agreements Violate SEC Whistleblower Protection Rules?

As the SEC takes aim at whistleblower “pretaliation” (attempts to muzzle whistleblowers via confidentiality and other employment agreements—overt or otherwise) ethics and compliance officers need to take practical steps to...more

SEC Cracks Down On Employment Agreements That Stifle Corporate Whistleblowers

On April 1, 2015, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) gave a boost to corporate whistleblowers, reaching its first settlement with a company accused of stifling whistleblowing activity through the use of...more

SEC Challenges Employee Confidentiality Agreements

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently announced that it brought (and resolved) an enforcement action against a company for allegedly discouraging whistleblower complaints by requiring employees to sign...more

SEC Announces Enforcement Action Regarding Employee Confidentiality Agreement

On April 1, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced its first settlement of an enforcement action under the SEC’s Rule 21F-17, which prohibits any person from taking “any action to impede an individual from...more

"SEC Enforces Whistleblower Protection Rule Against Restrictive Confidentiality Agreement"

On April 1, 2015, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced its first enforcement action against a company for a restrictive provision in confidentiality agreements that could deter employees from using the...more

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